Thursday, April 22, 2010
Is the owl box next to tree branches to which the babies can hop or fly?
There's been a lot of questions about the placement of the owl box, because when the babies start to fledge, they will do so in a process. Owl babies do not fledge all at once as one event the way songbirds do. First, they don't fledge to the ground like songbirds. Instead, they begin to hop from the nest to a nearby branch, then back again, over and over again. They can't fly yet, but they begin to exercise their wings by flapping them very hard while holding tight to a tree branch, and they hop back and forth.
Eventually, this hopping starts to include a little bit of lift, as if flying or gliding, but then there's the safety of nearby tree branches upon which to land. By doing this, they practice using their wings and start to learn what happens when they flap their wings this way or that, or the other way. They learn to stop in midair and float down to to the branch like a hellicopter. They learn to strike the branch w/ their talons. They learn all kinds of landing techniques.
Also, they will exercise their leg and wing muscles by powering up tree trunks, hooking their talons into the bark and flapping hard, using their powerful thigh muscles to literally walk up the tree trunk.
For this reason, it's advised that if you put up an owlbox, you need to put it up next to or even in a tree so that the owlets can fledge properly.
If the owlbox is not set up that way, the babies will fall to the ground when they leave the box, breaking wings and legs. Oh, was I "wrong" to say that? Lest anyone be concerned? Well, I can't lie, can I?
But we have been told that the owl box IS next to a tree and that there ARE branches right next to the box for the owls to jump back and forth to, right parallel with the opening of the box. What a relief.
Well, heck, you be the judge. Above is a picture of the owl box, which I got off of one of Carlos' websites! Let the debate end here!