Kevin, with a BIG tractor! Photo taken May 22, 2017.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Cabri Regional Park, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Where are they going next? We're here at the park until late September!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

No more owls...?

The strong east wind never let up yesterday at all. It was a pretty constant 40 km/h (25 mph) all day, and right through the night. Remember yesterday I had said we were amazed that our owl nest stayed up in that tree?

Well I guess I spoke too soon...

Most of the time, great horned owls don't build their own nest. They use a nest that has been abandoned, or they will can actually steal a nest from another bird. So this nest that mom has been using for the past four years is an old nest and it has been gradually deteriorating over the time we've been here.

Yesterday, the unrelenting wind took a toll. And there is noticeably less of a nest than there was before.

Late in the afternoon, I walked by to get a photo, and mom was up in the nest. Again, I looked for the little one, and couldn't spot it. I had been looking up all this time, so it took me a while to notice the baby... down on the ground!

Doesn't look injured...

It walked over to the base of thee tree next door.

Mom, still up in what's left of the nest.

We actually thought that there was still another baby or egg up there because the mom wouldn't leave the nest at all. We do think she was leaving the nest at night to go hunting though. There were rabbit remains on the ground below. But, we've pretty much given up on that idea now, although we still can't figure why she was spending so much time up there.

I took a video so you can see how windy it was.


Now...what to do with the baby, if anything. I did some research online, and ended up calling an owl rescue center in Ontario, Canada. Long story short, the baby was probably fine and it won't hurt anything with it being on the ground. The mother will still look after it and make sure that it's fed, but in an ideal world it should be returned to it's nest. Being handled by a human won't affect things. 

But, there was obviously no way for us to put it back in the nest, probably 30 feet or more up that tree. And, there wasn't much of a nest left anyhow. And, of course it was simply too windy.

The next choice is to get it off the ground. Although being on the ground itself isn't a problem, baby owls can be attacked by predators. We have coyotes and foxes here, and crows can even attack baby owls. I went and got the ladder and we were going to put it in the nook of a nearby tree maybe 10 or 12 feet off the ground. But, the ladder wouldn't even stay put from the wind. And we didn't think the bird would be able to stay there once it got up into that nook anyhow. It was so windy. And we didn't want to risk hurting ourselves in the process!

So we decided to leave it on the ground where it was now huddled up against the base of the tree.

We went out this morning, and there is no sign of either the baby or the mom.

There was a half a rabbit carcass nearby, so we think mom had fed the little one. But who knows.

Hopefully the little one is okay, and we'll keep an eye open for it.

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14 comments:

  1. Mother Nature sure is harsh. Hopefully she took the little one to a safe spot...

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    1. Yes she sure can be and it is even harder when you want to help out but can't! :-(

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  2. Sometimes it's hard to watch nature in it's natural habitat. I'll never forget watching the eagle cam when one of the eaglets got caught on the mother somehow and was thrown from the nest to it's death. That was tough to watch. Hopefully they are safe in the bushes somewhere until the baby is strong enough to start flying.

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    1. Oh, that would have been so sad to see! I am sure if I saw that, I would have be crying.

      We have seen the mother flying but still no sign of the baby. We haven't seen any fluff or feathers either though so we are going to take that as a good sign and that as you said, mom has gotten the baby to a nice hidden spot.

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  3. P.S. Your header photo is one of my favorites! SO beautiful!

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    1. Thanks Lori, I love that picture too!

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  4. It would be nice if they both survive and with some luck they will.

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    1. We know the mom is around because we saw her flying yesterday morning but still no sign of the baby. We will keep out fingers crossed that it has survived.

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  5. I was a tree climber when I was younger. I constantly had my dress torn from climbing trees and mother would scold me. Anyway, baby birds were constantly getting thrown from nest so we'd climb up the tree and put them back....sometimes only to find them back out of the nest. Grandma use to tell us, the mother bird has abandoned the little bird at which point we'd commence to feeding it until it flew the coop. I'll never forget the day my little sister & our cousin brought home baby skunks smelling to high heaven. Mom made them sleep outside even after a bath. The skunk mother had been eaten or killed by a coyote or another animal and the baby skunks were homeless. We kept them in a cage until they grew a little and we let them loose in the juniper forest later. Surprisingly they didn't spray us after they got use to us.

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    1. I was a bit of a tree climber myself when I was young but not now and this tree would be a very hard one to climb to start with. We just wish that it hadn't been so windy the night before or we could have at least got the little one up in the crook of a tree nearby but it was just too windy to make it safe for ourselves even. We will keep our fingers crossed that it has survived and is nicely hidden at the moment. We'll certainly be keeping our eyes peeled for it.

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  6. Would it be possible to put him in a wooden box or milk box attached to the tree as high if you could reach. At least that might lessen the chances of predators

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    1. It is a little late to do that after the little one had already disappeared! The owl expert did say that a basket will work for a nest but not a box. If we can get some kind of ladder truck (fire truck or tree trimming truck) to come around sometime this summer and we can get a big wicker basket, then we will get that put up in the tree for next year, hopefully.

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  7. Oh gracious. On top of everything else I am worrying about, I have to add two owls to my list. The beby is so adorable. And that wind was mighty for sure.

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    1. You only have to add one owl, the baby one. we have seen the mom but no sign of the baby. :-(

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