Saturday, May 15, 2010

The additions to Owlivia and Owlberts' box

Can't remember if the male is called "Owlbert" or what. I know i named my SUV "Truckbert" so maybe I'm mixing things up. Yes, I have an SUV - most people who work w/ animals and wildlife do. It's needed for transporting animals. I've had injured wild creatures in my truck (once, a loose injured possum who, thank god, didn't ruin anything), have packed 23 hamster cages into it, and regularly take my Colorado Mountain Dog on trips - she sleeps in her huge (maximum size?) airline carrying case for safety's sake. If there were an accident I wouldn't want her flying around loose.

Is this what the blog is about? NO! Is this written with the kind of skill you'd expect in a book? NOT AT ALL! But it's a blog, so I can do stream of consciousness, right? Well, at least once in awhile.


I think they must have consulted w/ someone who knew a thing or two about branching owlets, because there IS a platform very near the door, and if the owlets just hopped from the platform to the doorway and back, or from platform to platform and back, they' have the opportunity to strengthen their wings and learn how to use them. See, they literally have to figure out how to use their wings. At first they have the equipment but have no idea how to use it!

There's a video of branching owlets whose wings are fully devloped who can't fly worth anything and drop like stones when they fall off of something.

Here's an example of fully formed barn owl babies who still can't fly. They can hop-fly, but they still drop like stones if they fall:

This is such an important video in so many ways. It shows that even a box in a tree is inadequate if there is no branch right directly in front of the entrance hole!

Why would they not have this same problem in a hollow tree? You can see in this video how they hook their talons into the bark of the tree and pull themselves up, flapping to help themselves along. So in the case of a hollow tree, they can pull themselves up into the hole from a lower branch. They can't do that on a slick owl box. You can see them trying over and over again to get into the box, then falling like stones. Luckily they are caught by lower, springy branches and climb back up. But still can't get back in, and are reduced to standing outside begging. Then, when parents attempt to bring them food, if they get the food at all, they are very likely to drop it on the ground and not be able to go after it, or to be knocked off the branch by the parent, as we see in this video.

In the case of the O&O box, they have put a platform directly in front of the entrance to the box, and another platform further away. The thing that makes these platforms SO DIFFERENT from what we've seen on other boxes, is that the pole they are on does not end at the top in the middle of the platform. The pole leads to the SIDE of the platform, so the babies can pull themselves back onto it. The other KEY difference, and this makes ALL the difference, is that both the pole and the platform are carpeted w/ wall to wall carpeting - which is better than berber or something that they'd get their talons stuck in.

So, if they were to fall, God forbid, and if they weren't injured by the fall, they could either go to that tree nearby and climb it and hide there within the branches, or they could climb the pole w/ the carpet on it and end up on top of one of the platforms and hop-fly their way back into the entrance of the box. I do wish there was a pathway from the tree over to the box entrance in the form of similar platforms, but still, they've taken a lot of important things into account, such as how the babies would get back up onto the platforms.

Finally, the platforms themselves are not slippery! When the babies branch, if they can't wrap their talons around something like a carpet or astroturf covered branch, and if they have to land on a surface, they will slide right across and tumble over the other side unless there's something to grab onto. The carpet ought to be sufficient for them to grab onto it. At least I hope it is!

I can't see if up close, of course, but one can only hope that the carpet is enough for them to grab onto, and that they'll first only hop from the first platform back into the box, and that they can grab the carpet and flap their wings and gain strength. It's a lot better than anything else i've seen lately anyway!



Lori said...

That would be Owliver and Owlivia Stacey.


Lynn Blackwell said...

Stacey, yesterday I watched Max stretching his wings and trying to flap them, and then he went to the post and placed his foot against it as if he would climb it, and of course that's impossible - but to me that suggested that he is ready to grab onto a tree trunk or something similar and really start giving his wings a workout. Of course, there's not enough room in the box to really work out those incredibly beautiful huge wings.