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

Monday, June 14, 2010

Baby Birds Fledging From Nest Boxes Needs
IMHO, after 30 years of experience and research, I feel it needs to be clarified that this is not an issue Just for Barn Owls, it is for every baby bird except the Precocious ones like ducks and other birds of that particular type that are ready to go 24 hours after hatching. These birds will follow mom right out of the nest and to water or the feed ground. I can't remember the right term at this moment, but will look it up later.

We use different terms for baby birds to describe their stages:

1. Hatchling: just out of the egg, bare naked and eyes are shut.

2. Nestling: eyes are opened, developing downy feathers

3. Fledgling: sitting on the edge of the nest exercising wings and eventually
taking off to follow parents to get food. Food is the primary motivator here.

4. Brancher: Sitting in the branches of tress, shrubs, bushes or what ever
else is around to flap their wings building muscle and strength, hoping from
branch to branch while calling to parents for food.

Song Birds and Birds of Prey must have branches near the nest for them to survive, small song birds do ok with shrub, bushes, etc. but the larger birds need trees and a tree canopy to hide in so they are not vulnerable to predators from the ground and the sky. P2 at O&O learned a hard lesson of what crows are all about, but so has Pheobe the hummingbird.

Birds of Prey are especially vulnerable to attack if they don't have a place to hide in a thickly branched/leaved tree since all birds will go after them as they are considered a predator and they will run them off. Imagine keeping track of 3,4,5 babies being dive bombed and attacked by a flock of Crows, Blue Jays, etc. The need for heavy tree cover is very important along with the ability to get back into the nest if necessary to escape predators while fledging.

If any one has been watching the Red Tail babies in PA fledge this week you know that was difficult because the babies have to dodge a lot of traffic and human implements to make it across a busy high way and intersection to trees.

Most people see baby song birds leave a nest box and go to the ground and then maneuver them selves (mostly following parents call and lead) to a safe haven to hide in from predators while learning to utilize their wings, landing on branches and building foot strength. This process can take several days or a week before they are ready to fly through the air freely and hit their goal be
it from point a to b. They will follow the parents and siblings in a small flock like manner as the parents forage for food once they are adapt at flying, maneuvering they are taught to hunt and then abandoned by the parents.

These are all "learned" behaviors, baby birds don't leave the nest ready to fly and hunt, only the precocious ones such as Geese, Swans, ducks, Killdeer, chickens, peacocks, pheasants, etc. all hatch out and are ready to follow the parents within 24 hours, but they also don't fly for some time either. These birds learn to fly from land or water which is a totally different thing.

So my point is that this is not just a Barn Owl issue, it is an issue for any fledgling bird that has hatched from a nest box, song or raptor.

I have learned so much from watching all of the nests with a multitude of species, Eagles, Hawks, Owls, Cranes, Storks, Blue Birds, Chick-a-dees, Loons, etc. and see where I would do so much differently in rehabing babies. I was never able to get this up close and personal before while observing in the field. We never had the opportunity to watch all the integrate happenings in the nest that takes place and it is truly amazing. I sincerely hope that there is a lot of good that comes out of this and that now much more attention will be paid to the positioning and location of nest boxes including people who put up song bird houses need to put them into a tree hanging from a branch with branches accessible. I just felt I needed to address this to clarify the needs for tree dwelling avian's.

Peace and Blessings, Cyndi

12:59 pm est

Friday, February 5, 2010

2010 A New Year!! A New Facility! A New Start!!

Wow, hard to believe that it has been over a year since I posted on this site but it has been. So much has happened to our center and there is a lot to share with every one.  

We decided after selling our Central Florida site that it would be wonderful to relocate to an area that I have all ways wanted to be near, Gainesville Florida. Not only is this the most beautiful part of Florida but it is also home to the University of Florida and we really wanted to be near this college.

Over the years I had the opportunity to have many wonderful volunteers from UCF (University of Central Florida) and far more serious "Aprentices" that have moved on to earn degrees and advance in the world of animals and wildlife conservation. I treasure each one and am proud of the growth and accomplishments that they have made to the world.

With this in mind I know I will be able to find wonderful students eager to learn and willing to develop thier skills with the wildlife, environment and education.

I have been struggling for a long time with serious health issues and with the help of "Shands" successful diagnosis and removal of a parathyroid tumor that life will be better.  I have to say that for the first time in years I am feeling so much better.  I have lost a lot of time but think that since I have been given another chance at life I will be able to share my experiences and knowledge with people that are willing to learn.

I'm looking forward to this new year, new life, new facility, new start with a lot of enthusiasm and hope that with God as my guide the right people and things will be brought into our life. Peace


7:41 pm est

Friday, October 31, 2008

Chief Seattle on Mother Nature

In 1855, an American Indian Prophet, Chief Seattle, tried to enlighten the then President of the United States. He said; "Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the Earth is our Mother. Whatever befalls the Earth, befalls the children of the Earth. If we spit on the ground, we spit on ourselves". No one listened and the white man got greedier.

If we are ever to see a day or place where peace reigns supreme and the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the lion shall eat straw with the ox, then we must honor the magnificent, ultimate trust God put in us and save the lives of all His blessed creatures of creation and our home "EARTH".

These animals are a barometer of the environment and we are losing 3 species a day! This is the same environment we depend on for life. We are not dealing with just a sickness or disease, we are dealing with Extinction, soon it will be our own.

Each species was created to fit its individual needs and place in a balanced environment. We are the only species altering the planet to suit our will and needs. Stephen Hawking, a brilliant mind of our time has said: "I don't think the human race will last 100 years". I think he is right.

God made a promise to us that he would never destroy the earth again. He is quite surprised that we are doing it to ourselves


9:44 pm est

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What In The World Have We Humans Done??
Here I am in my mid fifties, and having lived over half a centure I've seen a lot.

I was fortunate to grow up when the world was beautiful and pretty clean. People were friendly, free enterprise in the form of Family Business succeeded, which supported the town or community. Churchs served the community and the community had values and morals.

Our world had abundand and diverse species of wildlife that lived in vital habitats untouched. Our planet was a beautiful living organism, a perfected machine working in harmony. Now the machinery of "Mother Nature" has it's works all stopped up, developed or polluted.

Now I look around and see nothing but a frightening mess. Starting with the Governments being corrupt, the very foundation of upon which civilization depends on for stability and management. Corporations now control as many of our actions as possible shaping society, and the shape it has formed is a monster.

Our Mother Earth, the environment in which we end on our very life force is a horrific mess of a cesspool of pollutants and over population abuse of the natural resources.

At times I see Mother Nature fighting back with mutant virus, bacteria, crop failures, horrific storms, and other natural happenings. I don't blame her at all for wanting to shed humans, the only species on Earth to fowl it's own nest.

Here in America people who have worked hard all their life to live the American Dream are loseing it all now. Why?????

When did it all start to go so bad? How did this happen? Who or what is responsible? Any body have any ideas on this subject?

11:18 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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