Friday, April 23, 2010

The death of 2 of Owlivia's babies

I am grieving along with everyone else about the death of these two precious little ones. Many people have asked for my opinion and here it is :

It's possible the two littlest ones were not getting enough to eat. Owlivia and Owliver were not bringing in as much prey as Molly and McGee, and they had one more baby to feed. If there isn't quite enough food, the littlest ones do weaken and die. The food is not distributed equally, as the first born and strongest baby is the most aggressive and gets the majority of the food, the second born is the second largest and therefore second most aggressive and gets the second largest portion and on down. If hunting is excellent, they all eat their fill. But if it's not excellent, the smallest and least aggressive babies get the smallest amount to eat, or nothing at all.

Without a necropsy, we won't know what really happened and can only speculate, but this is one of the main possibilities.

The other main possibility is the number one killer of owls, which is rodent poison. People put out poison for rodents, the rodents eat it, and then they go around with the poison in their systems for a little while before they die. During this time they are very easy to catch because of the effect of the poison. They are not surviving and running from predators, they are dying. So they're super attractive to a predator as an easy meal. So the predator catches and eats the poisoned rodent, and feeds it to the babies, and dies. Or the babies die.

It's possible that one of the prey items brought in was carrying poison and that the poison got fed to those two babies. I was worried that if this was the case, all the babies would die or the mother would die...ARG! I didn't sleep well last night. I'm sure a lot of people didn't!

But here we are 24 hours later and no one else has died. This is excellent news!

I'm not in touch w/ the people who have the owlbox, but I heard they were working w/ wildlife experts from project wildlife. If so, maybe they removed the items in the pantry just in case they were poisoned. I don't know.

I don't even know if it was poison.

Still, it really brings the point home about how delicate the food chain is, and how when we mess with it, we affect not just the rodents (in this case) but every animal that might eat that rodent. And this during nesting season, in the spring! It should be against the law.

Maybe this episode has made people more aware of the consequences of putting out poison.

I have friends who live out in the country in a very porous house, who are inundated w/ mice every year. So they put in those mouse traps that catch the mice, flip them unhurt into a holding area, then catch the next mouse, etc. By morning there might be 30 mice in the trap. Then my friends take the trap and drive out further into the country and let the mice go in a field where they can feed the wildlife instead of just dying in their house.

They do this every morning and they feel good about it and there are no poisons in their house.

They also have some excellent mouser cats in the house and barn who thrive on all those mice. It's a win win situation. People have managed to live for thousands of years with mice and have still managed to bring in crops, store crops...mostly...and haven't had to poison the world around them to do so. We can certainly do the same. Or are we more stupid than our ancestors?

I think we're more impatient than our ancestors and have developed a sense of entitlement that says, " I should not have to deal with any inconvenience whatsoever, so if that means poisoning the environment for my immediate gratification, then so be it, because there is nothing in this earth more important than my immediate and personal gratification." haha. I hope we haven't gone that far!

I do passionately hope that this will bring more awareness and help people to care!

In the meantime, I do grieve for those precious baby owls and hope and pray that the rest of the owls we've come to love will thrive in excellent health and go on to live long, happy lives!



Eva =uD said...

Stacey, eu estou muito, muito triste. Passei a noite de ontem acordada, e nao acredito que vou dormir bem hoje. Acho que podem ter morrido de fome, ou de envenenamento, como voce mesma diz. Eu sempre soube que isso poderia acontecer, e que é um episodio relativamente comum no mundo das corujas... mas ainda assim é horrivel de imaginar.
Foi uma perda realmente muito grande. Eu só espero que os outros estejam bem. Aparentemente, se foi veneno, porque nem isso nós sabemos, apenas aqueles dois owllets morreram. O que é uma "boa" noticia.
Ainda estou me lamentando por isso, e por nao poder ir ao WA Event...

CatGirl said...

In the wild, what would a mother owl do if her owlet died? Would she remove the body? And, do you know if the box owners of O&O have done anything other than wtach?

gcopelandrn said...

Thanks again for your careful observation of both owl boxes and your thoughtful comments, Stacey! I have talked to Carlos and he says he is "looking into it" (the perches). Good news! I agree--Carlos and his work may turn out to be truly "heroic"--and not just in the sense that the word is used in the owl box chat room!

If this is the outcome, then you, Stacey, have played a major role in furthering it. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Stacey, I think you're probably right about what happened to Owlivia's two owlets. But I was wondering also if there's an owl equivalent of the human "failure to thrive"?

Janet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan said...

Thank you for such great information, Stacey -- the more we know, the more we can work toward a world that respects our fellow creatures. I attended a symposium this past week on human consciousness, and one of the presenters, a theoretical physicist, made the somewhat controversial claim that all life forms are sentient. But, he said, even if you don't accept that, it's amply demonstrated that all creatures are. And our ethics need to start reflecting that awareness.

Victoria said...

Stacey, thanks so much for your beautifully written and informative blog. I've been an owl lover my entire life since reading Ford Maddox Ford's "The Brown Owl" as a child. Reading your lovely book about Wesley was such a treat in my adulthood.

In contrast, I'm sorry to say that I've been very disturbed by the tone of the chat in the Molly and McGee site. While not a scientist, I am a nature lover, and therefore aware that it's not all unicorns and glitter. I don't appreciate the bizarre way comments are being censored over there. It's been absolutely Orwellian at times (i.e. Happy fluffy comments only. Facts are not welcome unless they fit into some predetermined script.)

Here's the question I'd like answered by anyone (Donna, please, should you read this): Is the censorship a result of top-down management, and Carlos and Donna are responsible for it? Or is it over zealous Mods in need of some moderation themselves? Either way, it's left a very bad taste in my mouth, and I now find myself spending little time there. I certainly wouldn't send money to any charitable effort that supported that level of censorship, regardless how noble the primary cause.

Stacey, I've greatly appreciated reading your interesting and well-informed comments in the overflow chat room. Thanks for having a blog that is open to all thoughts and opinions, whether you happen to agree with them or not. And thank you for letting me get that off my chest.

(I'm not the same Victoria who posted previously)

Susan said...

Victoria there is another site you can watch Molly & McGee on. I too don't like the tone of the "main chat room" I'll call it for lack of a better word.

We've had one or two nights were some kids got on and were playing around, but other than that it's a lovely group of folks.
Maybe I'll see you over there!

Susan said...

Guess my link didn't post well.
Let's try this again.
You may have to cut and paste the two lines together to make it work!

Or just go to
and you can find them that way!

Anonymous said...

TAHNKS FOR YOUR SHARING~~~VERY NICE ........................................

Victoria said...

Thanks for the link, Susan. I'd prefer kids playing around any day to grownups censoring talk about wildlife because it's not "feel good" enough for them!