Texas barn owls, video


This video from the USA says about itself:

Texas Barn Owls Highlights 2014

7 October 2014

Over six months viewers followed a family of Barn Owls in Italy, Texas. Five eggs were laid and hatched in May. Unfortunately the two youngest owlets passed away, most likely due to starvation, however the strongly bonded Barn Owl parents raised 3 healthy owlets. All three juveniles left the nest box July 14, but continued to return to roost in the box during the day until the end of August. The parents throughout September and October are roosting in the box over night and continue to bond.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology would like to thank the many people involved in watching, tweeting to @texasbarnowls and helping to protect these enchanting birds. Without the devotion of a community of dedicated people we would not be able to show these birds to the world.

A special thank you to everyone who donated to keep the cams running, your support means everything to us.

Thanks for watching, see you in 2015.

For more highlights and news check out here.

Owl news update


This is a video from California in the USA about baby western screech owls in a wildlife hospital.

From the Cornell Lab or Ornithology in the USA:

New owl resources!

Have you ever heard something go screech in the night, and wondered what it was? There’s a good chance it was an owl! Not all owls hoot; some shriek, bark, and wail!

For a limited time, you can download free owl sounds from the Cornell Lab’s Macaulay Library. They’re owl yours to do with what you like…use them as your phone’s ringtone, or add them to your Halloween party playlist! Just get them before they disappear into the night.

Can’t get enough owls? Find out which owls in your area you can attract with a nesting box or platform. Enter your region and habitat into our Right Bird, Right House tool, and get free nest box plans and placement tips.

And if you’re wondering why so many Halloween decorations feature owls, consider this: owls are symbols of death in many cultures. Read our Citizen Science Blog post, Myths of the Ghost Bird, to find out how these helpful birds crept into Halloween folklore.

Old owl and falcon pellets, new research


This video is called Dissecting Owl Pellets – Mr. Wizard’s Challenge.

The Dutch Mammal Society reports today about a discovery in Naturalis museum in Leiden.

There, old boxes were found. It turned out that these boxes contained many pellets, leftovers of meals of owls, raptors and other predators. Most were decades old.

Translated from the report:

The pellets were from ten types of predators. Most items were from barn owls (24 items). The long-eared owl was second (11 items). Then were six kestrel items. Pellets from other predators were only sparsely represented. 23 small mammals were identified in the pellets. The most special finds were water shrew, bicoloured white-toothed shrew, root vole, European pine vole and occasional finds of hedgehog, black rat and garden dormouse. In addition, a small number of birds and a small number of insects were found.

The complete report is here.

Save English tawny owls from speeding cars


This video is called An Introduction to the Tawny Owl (Strix aluco).

From Wildlife Extra:

Tawny owls casualties of speeding cars

East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS) is warning drivers in East Sussex to slow down when driving at night following a spate of collisions with tawny owls.

A total of ten tawny owls were hit over a six-week period at Ashdown Forest, Uckfield, Scaynes Hill, Magham Down, Hastings, Lewes, Polegate, and Eastbourne.

“Unfortunately three died out on site before our emergency ambulances arrived,” said WRAS Casualty Centre Manager and Director Kathy Martyn, “three had to be put down due to the severity of their injuries, two have been released and two are still in care.”

The incidents all happened at night or at dusk, when the owls are active, hunting on the roads for rodents in grass verges and roadside embankments. “Many people think it’s safe to drive fast at night as you can see approaching car’s head lights from a distance,” said Trevor Weeks, MBE founder of East Sussex WRAS, “sadly wildlife don’t have lights on them and could easily run out into the road causing potentially fatal injuries to both the animal as well as humans.”

WRAS is seeking to reduce the number of casualties by urging drivers to think about animals that could be crossing roads when driving in the dark.

Tawny owls are common and found throughout the UK, but they remain protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. Once mated, males and females often stay together for life, and will seldom leave their territory.

More on this is here.

Good Frisian short-eared owl news


This video is called An Introduction to the Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus).

Translated from the Dutch SOVON ornithologists:

Friday, September 5th, 2014

It was already known that this spring in some places in the Netherlands, short-eared owls had started to breed. It will surprise many people that in Friesland province there were dozens of couples. The counter now says more than 40 breeding pairs in continental Friesland, significantly more than were recorded all over the Netherlands in recent years. Including the Frisian islands, the provincial number will be about 50. Also elsewhere in the Netherlands, unexpectedly short-eared owls nested.

Good burrowing owl news from California


This video from the USA is called The Burrowing Owl‘s Cozy Home.

From the San Jose Mercury News in the USA:

Alviso: ‘Charismatic’ burrowing owl protected by special habitat

By Andie Waterman

08/26/2014 12:04:21 PM PDT

SAN JOSE — As a crow perches on a mound of earth, a pint-size chestnut-feathered owl emerges in front of it. The crow sits still, but the owl leaps forward, collides with the crow head-on and knocks it backward. The owl swoops away.

The confrontation in Alviso was captured on a motion-sensor camera that is documenting the rising population of burrowing owls at a South Bay preserve — a trend that runs counter to an overall decline in the species.

And the photos and videos are providing a look at how the owls live.

“We get a look at the secret lives of burrowing owls,” said Stephanie Ellis, executive director of the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society (SCVAS).

Josh McCluskey, burrowing owls project manager for SCVAS, is among those who have been reviewing the footage of the western burrowing owl since the March installation of motion-sensor cameras that monitor a 180-acre owl habitat near the San Jose-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility in Alviso.

Since 2012, a partnership between the Audubon Society and San Jose’s Environmental Services Department, with the help of environmental studies experts and students from San Jose State and De Anza College, has created ideal conditions for the burrowing owl habitat.

That year very few owls lived on the Alviso site. Now there are 14 adults and 29 chicks.

“This is the one place where their population can be built up to repopulate other areas, to be able to create habitats for them elsewhere,” said Shani Kleinhaus, burrowing owl environmental advocate with the Audubon Society. “This is the one place where the population is increasing in the Bay Area.”

The burrowing owls — who are on average 9 inches tall and weigh a quarter of a pound — are the only species of owl that lives in underground burrows. They are found in various places in California, such as the Bay Area and Imperial Valley, and also some locations in Mexico and Canada.

They are unusual among owls, according to Philip Higgins, biologist for the city of Mountain View, because they don’t have ear tufts, are awake during the day as well as at night and do not hoot.

The Bay Area’s burrowing owl population in the mid-1980s was estimated to be around 560 to 640 adult owls, three-fourths of them in the South Bay. By the 1990s the population had decreased by about 50 percent, and in 2009 there were only an estimated 70 adults left in the South Bay.

Two years ago, Higgins warned the burrowing owl — listed by the state and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a “species of conservation concern” but not yet endangered — could become extinct by 2032.

A plan to create buffer zones to protect the owls was drawn up that same year by Higgins and Lynne Trulio, professor of environmental studies at San Jose State. They blamed the decline on habitat loss and lack of sufficient prey.

When the then-San Jose-Santa Clara Water Pollution Control Plant (now the San Jose-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility) filed an environmental impact report in 2009 for future development of 2,600 acres of mostly barren land around the plant, the Audubon Society sought a dedicated space for the owls, and the city allocated 180 acres for the habitat.

Volunteers from the Audubon Society and city staff members began building artificial burrows and dirt mounds on the Alviso site for the owls, who make a mess in the burrows and then leave. The mounds attract squirrels, which create tunnels that owls can move into later.

Owls “can move to the next burrow, then the ground squirrels will move back in and the ground squirrels are very clean and they’ll clean it all out and make it nice and neat,” said McCluskey. “And then the owls will move right back in.”

Volunteers also mowed the grass for the owls, which need grass to be shorter than 5 inches to scan the area for predators and prey, and put in perches to make scanning easier.

A year later, they saw more owls in the area, six adult pairs and 10 chicks.

“I like to call it a recipe and the recipe was really basic, like pound cake,” said Ken Davies, the city’s environmental services department compliance officer. “Put three things in there and you get this nice thing.”

In addition to the Alviso site, owls are still present and protected at Shoreline Park in Mountain View, Moffett Field, and Mineta San Jose International Airport. But the Alviso habitat is considered ideal because it is restricted from the public and can be controlled.

“The only way to save them is to use existing sites,” said Higgins. “If you lose one of (the sites), you’re just increasing the chances of the bird becoming extinct in the area.”

Installing motion-sensor cameras in March of this year made it easier to keep track of the owls, and gave observers insight into owls’ lives.

Much of the city staff and Audubon Society’s work involves the grind of separating photos of windswept brush from owl photos. But there have also been photos of young owls divebombing into each other to practice their hunting skills, and a video of an owl chasing a squirrel out of its burrow.

“They’re a very charismatic bird,” said Kleinhaus —… They come out during the day. … They’re real acrobats, they can hover, they can flip, they can do very amazing stuff.”