And Then There Were None

Top Photo: Lone barred owlet peeks out from damaged nest.

Barred owls are cavity nesters. They nest in holes in trees, nest boxes built for them, or a broken off trunk open at the top, exposed to the weather and other dangers, like predation.

On April 29, I posted on this blog about a barred owl’s nest here on campus. At the time there were two owlets in the nest. On May 6, one of the owls fell out of the nest. One of the upright pieces of the trunk which held the owlets in-check had broken off and one of the nestlings tumbled, or jumped, to the ground.

Two owlets in relatively intact nest.

The bird was discovered near the base of the tree, apparently uninjured, but on the ground and vulnerable to predation by fox, raccoon, or feral cat.

Then there was one, a single owlet staring out from the wide-open nest.

A single owlet stares down at me.

A few days later the remaining nestling went missing.

An empty and broken nest.

It was eventually relocated about twelve feet up in a young tulip poplar some 50 or so feet from the nest tree.

Lone owl in tulip poplar.

While watching the young owl on the morning of the 9th, there was quite a bit of hawk activity in the area. A red-tailed hawk was seen coming in for a recon, but was dutifully chased away by one of our resident red-shouldered hawks. Minutes later, one of the red shoulders came within a few meters of the owlet, whisking by and around the young owl, but apparently holding back due to volunteer Sammie and my proximity to the target. All the while, a bald eagle circled overhead.

We, Sammie and I, left the site.

I returned later that afternoon and could not relocate the owlet. Had a hawk finally nabbed the little owl, or had the owl somehow moved to a more secure location? How had the owl managed to get into the poplar in the first place? It certainly didn’t appear capable of sustained or directional flight, perhaps a dozen feet of haphazard travel at a time, with a rapid drop in altitude each attempt, but not true flight.

Barely able to fly, if at all.

There are many more questions than there are answers.

1 response to And Then There Were None

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.