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Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Urban Owl


Here it is almost August and to my amazement we are still watching the Barn Owl nest boxes.  So far only 1 has reclutched, but the other nests the parents are showing interest.  I have to admit this has me a bit perplexed because it isn’t “normal” for these birds to be reclutching so soon, the only time I know or have experience with is if they lost the first group of hatchlings or there are a LOT of rodents around and nature wants to get back in balance.  I don’t know because I don’t have all the specifics, just my observations done via web cam and internet connection over a thousand miles away.

In doing some reflecting, (of which I have been doing a lot lately) I am reminded that I began to see a change in the wildlife in the mid 1990’s.  There had all ways been a definitive line in the “season” of wildlife coming in.  If I started keeping track of wildlife coming in with the year, in January it was the “Migratory” season, when we would get in a lot of  migratory birds that were sick from feeding in dirty contaminated places on their way south.  Sometimes it was young that were just plain tired and needed to be housed and feed to regain strength to continue. 

A quick story here….one year when I got a lot of calls about a Red Tailed hawk that was sitting on the side of I-4 injured.  Well that usually indicates a vehicle accident so going out there I found a juvenile Red Tail Hawk that was not injured in any way that I could find so after a couple days of observation they were released back into the wild.  To make this story short and to the point because I do have a tendency to ramble, this young hawk had learned that I-4 was easy hunting for road kill and would eat so much they were to heavy to get off the ground.  So for years this happened and whenever we got a call during migration from someone regarding a injured hawk sitting on the guard rails of a busy highway, we would assure the people from experience that this was “Highway Harry” and that he ate too much and just needed to digest the meal and would be fine.  It took awhile to figure this out because he had been to 3 other rehabbers and no one knew the other had dealt with him until we were at a conference together talking.  Talk about an “Aha Moment” between a group of people.

Following that was the spring “baby” season which started in March.  The harsh tropical storms would blow nests out of trees and this was the Bird of Prey hatching time and tree squirrels.  By May song birds and mammals would roll in and go full speed until August when we again would get a break.  The only thing coming in then would be young that were the “second” clutch and in September the second group of squirrels, raccoons, opossums.  It seemed that the larger mammals like deer didn’t reproduce so readily if a young was lost like the birds or smaller mammals.  We only got to breath for about 2 months before the “Migration” casualties would start to arrive.

So that is the cycle of life from a wildlife rehabilitators reference for over 30 years, this is what I experienced until the mid 1990’s when I noticed that this changed quite a lot.  There were babies arriving earlier than normal or expected and I don’t think anyone really paid to much attention to it or is even doing so now.  If so I haven’t seen anything but I think it is important that there is something done to look and see if this is in fact an actual occurrence or something that I may of misinterpreted.

Ok, so back to my original thought and the “Aha” Moment I had the other night in “Buddy  & Fluffy’s”  nest box.  While staring at it envisioning all that needed to be done to make it a more “perfect” nest box I was thinking that how unusual it was to see something like this in a back yard of a suburban neighborhood.  How this was something that you don’t normally see when all of a sudden it dawned on me…… I was witnessing the “Urbanization” of the Barn Owl from agriculture to suburbia, this was the beginning of a transition of a species to adapt right into the back yards of homes, not just farms. WOW, what an “Aha Moment”!!!!!

Because of humans encroachment on the wild spaces of our planet many species of animals had to learn to adapt to the humans environment or they would die out into extinction.  Mother Nature is a really wonderful complex working web of life, so many organisms so interdependent upon each other for survival.  When a strand is broke in this web where ever possible Nature tries to balance.  When there is a conflict there is a resolution, for every action there is a equal reaction, rules of the universe.

I first noticed the “acclimation” of wildlife in the 1970’s with the Ospreys making nests in the light poles of baseball fields, parks and power lines, now they are nesting in Cell Phone towers.  Other acclimations are being made by other species where they can find the right place. Interesting enough though, our national symbol the Bald Eagle, who would NOT nest anywhere near humans is slowly becoming acclimated to humans and a bit more tolerant to nesting a little closer but still not as bold as the Osprey.

So with these Barn Owl nest boxes now going up in urban backyards, parks and other places not directly involved in agricultural business, there is a new partnership developing between them and humans in the Urban environment.  Since this is a successful happening it is very obvious that these Owls are very necessary to our own survival.  Without them the rodent population would grow in such large numbers that there would eventually be a plague of some sort that would spread much like the early times that killed millions of people.  We as humans need to treasure the wildlife, without them we would die, without us they would survive and thrive, that says a lot about us being “expendable” from this planet.

11:22 pm est

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How Ironic it is to achieve immortality via technology..

Never thought I would make it this far. After years of being near death sick I feel more alive now then I can remember. In fact I don't know what it is like to feel good, it has been so long, I think close to 15 years that I have waited for death. But I beat death and am now looking forward to life....Today is the first day of the rest of my life!!


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