Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Let's not agitate on the new site. Let's agitate the Dept of Fish and Game to do something about ALL owl boxes

I hear that some of us who are passionate have been 'messing up' the new chatroom w/ discussions about branching and perches. I think it's sad that people "just want to enjoy the owls" but don't want to help them. So they want what they want but don't care what happens to the owls and all the other owls in the same situation?

Ok, well.

Actually, maybe that chat is the wrong place to agitate.

The truth is, the laws won't be changed until we take it to the Dept of Fish and Game and ask THEM how to put into place regulations on how owl boxes are built. Maybe we need to have an approved system like they do in England, and enforcement of that system.

It sure would take a huge burden off of wildlife centers, who labor over sometimes HUNDREDS of fallen baby barn owls, housing, feeding, teaching them to be wild, teaching them to fly, exercising them in huge flight cages....

And it would be such a relief of the collective agony and pain of the little innocent ones who are never found and taken to shelter.

Really, it's the Dept of Fish and Game that can tell us how to start the ball rolling.

This is a nationwide problem, after all, not just in San Diego.

The light has been shined on the problem, now we know what needs to be done, and now we need to figure out how to fix it and people need to decide if they want to take this project/campaign on and literally lick stamps and write letters to congress and Federal Fish and Wildlife and State Fish and Game...etc.

I think the chats are so much the wild west that we've done all we can with raising conciousness and now it's time for someone w/ more energy than I have to take it to the next level.

It doesn't take a degree in biology to figure out what needs to be done now, and anyone w/ the time and energy can do this...

I can write. That's what I do. But there are other people the time and energy to do that other part that needs doing now.

I wonder if we could find out from "England" more about how they went about this.

What do YOU think?


(hoping to hear from you guys, ideas, thoughts, etc.)

PS: Yes, I'm being attacked. But I've answered that attack, so I'm done responding to it. It's more useful to move on and do the right thing for owls. That's what we've learned to love, the owls themselves. That's the gift that's been given to all of us - the passionate love of these innocent, sweet, sassy, wild hearted souls.


Anonymous said...
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Janet said...

Well I don't really know what to say. I went to the other chat and it was pretty nice but was spoken to rudely by a certain person over there bc I asked them please not to talk about you in a manner many people wouldnt like. I said you werent there to defend yourself and to please stop because it was wrong. So after that I was ripped apart and this person apparently went to my page here and told everyone I was a so called Christian and I was made fun of. The thing is I was never rude there. So I did say bf I wasnt going back but now I have no intrest. I have taken all my posts down Ive written on your blog bc I dont want to be slurred anymore than I have been...noone can take anything Ive written the wrong way then. I dont know why if a person mentions that the box needs more perches that they take this as a personal affront to Carlos. It is not. I think Carlos is really educating people which is great; hopefully many will go on to read and gain much knowledge. My fervent wish is that all will be ok and sucessful with these fellas. May God really Bless them.

Dadu said...

I feel guilty now for "enjoying the owls"; it has been a spiritual experience to watch these amazing creatures. I didn't realize my enjoyment also meant to some, quick to judge, that I didn't care about owls.

What I would like is some links to information. There have got to be other owl lovers who want to help them out there and can join up with those who need the help, etc. I can be on the computer and can write and research, being disabled. Who do we write at fish and game? Where do the rescuers hang out? Are they organized in some way? What do they want people to do for them? We have lots of questions....where can all the information we find go to so that it is all in one place?

ChrisG said...

I think people in that chat are more apprehensive about the tone (that they expect from your group) than the message. I can guarantee that agitation will get you ignored or worse, just like in everyday social interactions. Agitating is for political institutions. Persuasion, education and peer pressure are for social groups.

And a lot of the people in that chat do only want to ooh and ahh over the "cute baby owls." Hopefully even these people are nevertheless learning a little bit about the bigger picture, i.e. the longer-term picture, i.e. the view that gets expressed here.

I don't see a resource page on your blog or your book site and I think that's one of the best things you can do. (Excuse me if I missed it.) If you can do the one-time effort to create a single permanent page that points to sites that show an acceptable owl nest box design (or system), and correct placement of a box, and so on then I think the knowledge that it takes to put that together would be returned severalfold in the form of a more aware set of newbie visitors. Some of them will evolve into activists.

I also would suggest that you get that page(s) into general knowledge by getting links to it from owl sites, or even putting it on Google in the form of sponsored ads for searches on "owl boxes." Yes, those sponsored ads cost money (about 40 cents per visitor), but people like me might be willing to contribute toward the cost of those clicks, and help you administrate the ads if you choose to go that route. Those sponsored ads (and the information page) would be one way to counteract the bogus information being given out by the other sponsored ads. It's the new grassroots organizing.

cricket said...

I wonder why there are not other companies installing owl boxes that are set up for the owlets to branch safely. Searching on the internet I can only find owl boxes alone or owl boxes with poles some without even a perch. If a buyer has the choice to purchase a safer model I think they would. This could happen while the dept. of Fish and Game works on a permanent problem. Any go-getter business people out there?

leithanne said...

Stacey, I've been watching the owlets on "that site" since before Max started peeping over his Mommy's back. And I have learned much from your posts on Ustream and from your blog.

Certainly, you, of all people, know how territorial creatures can be. While I believe that you, personally, would have been welcomed,I believe that the issue was with the feeling that the site was being used for your personal agenda.

I hope that was the case.

I believe in your agenda. I don't want to see owlets die. But, if you really care, it's no longer about your feelings. Prance into the lion's den and take the crap.

If you influence 2 or 3 people before you are banned or deleted, it's a start. You took the blinders from my eyes. I can't believe I was the only one.

tired of igoogle said...

chris said what I wanted to say, but much more eloquently. For most, when this started out, it was all about how cute the owlets were, and general banter between the posters. It was an education in the works. I don't think anyone even knew about how owl boxes should be set up, or where, or what was good or not good. I didn't know about branching, and likely no one else who was watching the owls did either. I know, positively, that everyone wants the owlets to thrive and survive.

When such passionate people come into a really mild chat room, it ruffles feathers. I know they mean well, but they come across as being aggressive and know-it-all, and that just starts arguments. None of us wants to argue. We would just like to watch the owlets grow and chat with each other about owls and other stuff, w/o being told that we should become activists and boycott the owl box. That wasn't said in words, but it was implied.

Your role in all of this is to help educate those who want to be educated. The suggestion that Chris made about having a site to go to for information about owl boxes can't be repeated enough. I won't become an activist, but will advocate for the owls.

tired of igoogle said...

chris said what I wanted to say, but much more eloquently. For most, when this started out, it was all about how cute the owlets were, and general banter between the posters. It was an education in the works. I don't think anyone even knew about how owl boxes should be set up, or where, or what was good or not good. I didn't know about branching, and likely no one else who was watching the owls did either. I know, positively, that everyone wants the owlets to thrive and survive.

When such passionate people come into a really mild chat room, it ruffles feathers. I know they mean well, but they come across as being aggressive and know-it-all, and that just starts arguments. None of us wants to argue. We would just like to watch the owlets grow and chat with each other about owls and other stuff, w/o being told that we should become activists and boycott the owl box. That wasn't said in words, but it was implied.

Your role in all of this is to help educate those who want to be educated. The suggestion that Chris made about having a site to go to for information about owl boxes can't be repeated enough. I won't become an activist, but will advocate for the owls.

Faire said...

If it weren't for Carlos I would never have found Molly, and if it weren't for Molly I would never have found Stacey, and if it weren't for Stacey I would never have found Wesley. Stacey, I just finished your book, which it is the best thing I have read in a long, long time -- and I am an avid reader. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Susan said...

What if, god forbid, the best thing that could happen for the long-term best interest of Owls all over the country, would be if one of these little guys (Molly's brood), got injured while trying to fledge? I wouldn't wish it on any of them, but *if* it were to happen and all the TV stations picked up on it, maybe that is what is needed for proper Owl boxes to get the true attention it deserves!

Chris said...

People keep forgetting that the camera is only in the box and the outside of the box. If any or all of the owlets get hurt or injured, no one will ever see or know it. In fact, unless he finds the owlet, Carlos himself might never know what happens to them. He'll only see them if they stay in the tree or come back and actually get into the box. Otherwise, we can only wonder.

Chris said...

It would have been wonderful if he had taken Stacey's suggestion of an apparatus right up by the door where they could have practiced "branching" safely and then hopped back into the box. That would have been filmable, and maximize chance of survival. We would all have been able to enjoy that.

Cybee said...

I was looking at that Owl Trust e-site and reviewed the slide show regarding a proper owl box. I had not heard before that the owl box should be very deep as to the door so that owlets can not get out too early. Then edges to platforms (best being totally going around the box if on a pole) that are lower from the door (but not so far as inside base floor) are preferred. Very interesting site. I have more to learn.
Yes, who know I would be educating myself about through all this the public ..or at least some of us...are slowly getting educated.

Susan said...

Cheers to you, Stacey! I'm so glad you've decided to find a new avenue to channel your passion!

I honestly don't think that the people who say they "just want to enjoy the owls" aren't concerned about their welfare -- they just don't know how to help and they get tired of hearing about the problems when they feel helpless to do anything.

Most people are not activists. That doesn't make them "bad" or "uncaring" people. Just because someone isn't screaming from the rooftops about a problem doesn't mean they are unaware of it or don't care. People have to prioritize in their lives and we all need to respect the fact that not everyone is going to be willing to put as much time and energy into the things we personally consider to be important.

I think it's fantastic that you're moving on and looking at the bigger picture. Although the experience has been a bit painful for you, I'm so happy to see you moving forward and engaging people in a different forum.

Agitating people in a general online chatroom will not accomplish anything other than make you miserable. Focusing your energy in a positive way at the people and organizations that can actually make a difference is the way to go.

Who knows, maybe you'll inspire more people to become activists. You've already inspired me to find ways to get involved in wildlife welfare, and I'm just a silly financial analyst in real life. :)

Victoria B said...

Stacey: Thanks for pointing me in the direction of Fish and Game. That will be helpful when I start looking into the barn owl situation in Glen Rock, PA.

For those of you asking Stacey to take more action, I suggest you do the legwork and start the ball rolling yourselves. She has already given us suggestions as to how we can help. I think she has enough on her plate for now.

It is not my intent, nor do I think it is Stacey's, to make anyone feel bad for not being an advocate. I have been an advocate for animals since I was a kid. Not everyone can do it, it can be hard.

Lynn Blackwell said...

Stacey, can we get someone to develop a statement we can present to the Departments of Fish and Game, and then present it here so we can get anyone who wants to sign on to it? We need something we can rally behind and support - we are all in favor, just not organized about what needs to be happening. We can then take it out or spread it about to get more signatures and support - but we need to have a clear statement of what it is we are supporting.

GrayC's Gardener said...

The current idea about contacting the US Fish & Game people to pursue improvements in owl box construction is great. Glad you picked up on that. Encouraging your followers to take action is a huge improvement over the ranting and complaining. If you believe in something, figure out how to make it right instead of just telling people incessantly that they are wrong. You're on the right track now.

Charlotte said...

Stacey, know that all of this, ALL of it has its purpose. LOOK at the lives you have touched! Look back to the post in April that you made, wondering if we were "out there"! Can you remember that? Look how far you've reached across the miles and the lives and have been able to share all that you have. You are a treasure. Oh, the hard times with the Carlos compound? That's just grist for the mill. All the controversy and the conflict about the owlet's branching needs not being adequately addressed are what many of us needed to get that fire LIT. For weeks since I learned that my two owl boxes were of that deadly design I have been haunted, HAUNTED by the thought of ten years of these things being put up on south Florida farms, part of the University of Florida's "Barn Owl Project". Today's ban had a positive effect on ME, Stacey. I'm no longer able to stay in passive "watch" mode. I am sure I won't be alone.

Anonymous said...

You've motivated me and I just want to say I've gone and looked at the Missouri Department of Conservation.
I then "googled" barn owl boxes Missouri to see if there were people who installed the boxes here ... I didn't see any.
The first link that shows up was one to the Missouri Department of Conservation's Working For Wildlife - How to Build a Barn Owl Box. There is ZERO mention of a pole. Only in barns, silos, etc. The PDF file that shows the box design is very simple, yet shows the box entrance at 8 inches up.

Is this adequate enough? Also, I live near a lot of farm land ... is it worth looking into local farms and talking to them about Barn Owls, etc? I would love to change the fact that barn owls are considered "rare" here to "common" :)

Any advice would be appreciated.

ivorybill said...

How about someone offering to help Stacey compile this information?

Stacey has a chronic illness and has to conserve her energy. I think a lot of people forget that.

I am a web designer and art director, and I know how to use The Google. And my brain. I can help.

What have those of you with the back-handed complaints and tender sensibilities done lately?

Gaffney said...


I wouldn't presume to speak for Stacey but if you haven't visited these links, please do.

eyeopening slideshow:

Barn Owl Trust detailed info on owl box specs:

They don't seem to show perches although they should be included.

Stacey O'Brien said...

I have tried, in my previous posts, going way back, to be tactful in my suggestions about how the outcome of this lovely experience w/ enjoying the owls could be enhanced by us not having to watch a tragic ending. Even if this tragic ending were hidden from us, we have all, collectively, fallen in love w/ these individual and precious souls, the baby owls. I was trying to ENHANCE the experience for everyone by pointing out how to make sure that the outcome wasn't just awful, after all the love we have grown to feel for these owls.

If you look through my original posts about branching systems, I think you'll see that, far from "agitating" or being negative, I have been trying to help and have been encouraging with information and ideas.

I wonder how that ever got twisted into me "agitating" anyone? I suspect that perhaps this is how it is being described on the owl box chatroom?

Please go back and read my posts, read what I actually said, before saying that I have been tactless, or agitating.

The reason I was trying to encourage Carlos to do something is that he had such a huge audience that he was well positioned to show the world a new approach, a fantastic approach, and to then turn his cameras to the amazing process of branching and fledging.

That was my intent. I tried to help ensure that everyone had a happy experience all the way through to the part where we get to watch the hilarous yet intense process of learning to fly, and see our beloved owlets on to great success. It would be such a wonderful end to the "story" of these owls!

One chatter said I was "ruining her happy place". I cannot imagine anything worse for her "happy place" than having these sweet, innocent, lovely owlets end up in a horrible, sad, tragic situation, rather than a fun, wondrous, amazing, miraculous branching and fledging experience.

And all the schoolchildren watching also deserve to be able to see this through to a happy outcome, if at all possible.

These were and are my motivations. It's sad that they were so thoroughly shot down and were perceived as an affront. Sad for the owlets, really, not for me personally.

djohn36755 said...

I have been watching Molly's site since the last egg hatched (also agonized with others over the egg that never hatched).... It was a "Happy Place" Stacey. Not a group of scientists or owl "experts" - just ordinary people - from all over the place - logging in "Good morning from XYZ" - We have zero control over Carlos or his owl box. In my humble opinion - any suggestions about how the box/ branching etc. should have been directed to Carlos privately in an e-mail or some other method. All of the doom and gloom and "babies are going to die" just upsets people who have no control and understandably upsets the entire "community" of watchers. I believe you personally did not attack but some people who support you have.... I've been in chat and been so disturbed by the tone that I just turned off my computer and went out to watch my own bluebird house. I also read your l-o-n-g post before you changed it so that influences my thoughts somewhat. You would have a better chance of reaching your goal (educating the public about the best possible set up of owl boxes) if you used reasoned, professional language and avoid all personal attacks and immature rants that go on and on and on. I realize this is your life and for most posters this is a once on a lifetime look into nature that they will never see again and possibly never have other owl "encounters". So that is a vast distance that perhaps cannot be bridged. Carlos has a link to your book and (with the exception of the comment about scientists that offended you) has been polite and respectful (on the public site). If other communication is going on between the two of you - I cannot speak to that. Unsure if any of this is helpful, I've been following your blog as well as Molly's site and you asked what people thought - so I decided to post for the first time. Have a blessed day!

Anonymous said...

djohn36755, You're on the sportsmansparadise site if you're seeing a link to Stacey's book. Rest assured that Carlos had NOTHING to do with posting that link! It was put up on that site in response to chatters' repeated requests. This is NOT the site Carlos broadcasts his live feed from. That site is Ustream, which has its own multiple chat rooms. It's an entirely different place. Only if you'd been in those chats would you have a real picture of what's gone on there. Stacey has been REMARKABLY patient, kind, and respectful in her treatment of Carlos, with the exception of the one time she finally let him get to her. (I don't know another person on the planet who'd have held it together as long as she did!) . To her credit, when anyone else would be in retaliation mode at this point, she has chosen the better path... to lead us away from trying to educate people on that site and work instead to change the laws so we can ALL "just enjoy these owls" without fearing their demise, which is all the "worry warts" and "hand-wringers" wanted in the first place.

Chris said...

djohn, it is really too bad if you regard being realistic about the needs of what we provide for wild creatures as interfering with your "happy place."

There IS something that can be done by Carlos to increase the safety of the owlets, and Stacey has been very specific about what would work.

I feel there is a real benefit to people knowing the truth about what is likely to happen, because the more people who know, the more likely Carlos is to put up the kind of apparatus that will keep them safer.

Let's take a comparable situation with a child. It would be hard for me to enjoy watching a live video cute baby chewing on a plugged-in extension cord, if there were someone right there who could take it out of his mouth.

I can't imagine saying, oh don't mention that to the person in charge, it would spoil my pleasure in seeing how cute the baby is.

I can't imagine labeling any person who mentions that live extension cords can electrocute the baby as a worry wort, and accusing them of upsetting the viewers -- and of talking gloom and doom, when there is something so simple that can be done as removing the extension cord from the baby.

Likewise, it is pretty simple to put up a branching apparatus during the next week, but it will only happen if enough people tell Carlos that it matters.

And if he still chooses not to, that's his business, but at least he and viewers need to be informed. Ignoring correctable hazards to the owlets while chatting about how cute they are and how much everyone loves them helps no one.
I would think that genuine love for them would include wanting as much safety as possible, since the box is a man-made structure in the first place.

Chris said...

Sorry, left out the fact that people have contacted Carlos about directly about this, as you suggest. But there is a valid reason to be posting about it where all the viewers can see it, and become informed,as well.
Unfortunately, the mods ban us for doing that.

kathr said...


You are so right that this chat is not the place to agitate. Instead of faulting one owlbox owner or one company, better to draw attention to the overall problem. In another venue. This issue is too political for the Owlbox chat, which seems to have a different purpose.

Chris said...

I may be a minority of one about this, and I totally agree that the Owl Box is not the place to "agitate." But IMO, informing people about the issues, especially with links to places like the Barn Owl trust, is valuable. After all, links are given to transferit, etc., many times per day. It's possible to give information and be realistic without agitating. People have to make their own decisions, but at least they should have the chance to make informed ones.When it comes to important issues, I really believe that informing people of what can be done does not mean insisting that they do it.

It's kind of a moot point anyway, since the Mods at Owl Box will not allow these things to be discussed.

fluffy said...

Stacey, first of all let me say that I'll miss having you on the chats. You were one of the chatters with the most helpful information. I've learned a lot from you about owls both there & after reading your delightful book about Wes.

It seems that most of the regular chatters there are living in a Disney world. A rat delivered at feeding time is a "treat". They put post-it stickies on their PC screens to cover any carcasses remaining. When the owlets get warm & show gular fluttering they say they are "singing". Well, it goes on & on. And I have to tolerate it & remain mostly mute.

Carlos was a victim since he didn't know diddly about owl boxes before he hired a gentleman to come & install his. This same gentleman has put up over 5000 Owl Boxes across the area. When I asked said box building gentleman about why the placement he told me it was the only place in Carlos yard so he had to use the 16 foot galvanized pole.

In my opinion, he should have told Carlos that there wasn't an appropriate place to build one & moved on to his next potential customer.

So THIS guy (T**)is who the Dept of Fish & Game need to regulate as well as homeowners who decide to build their own. He actually told me that the boxes he builds like the Royals are big enough for 12 owlets.

I live in Central Louisiana in a very rural area so I plan on putting up a couple of Owl Boxes that are in compliance with the English ones.

In closing, the vibe the mods want to keep there is sugar & sweet, look at the birdies. They want to buy mugs. comics, t-shirts, etc as a remembrance for their commune with nature. I don't even mind all that since it was the chatters that started clamoring for all that crap.

I just want to see the owlet family successfully branch, climb, get strong then hunt so they can move on to their own families.
May 6, 2010 10:22 PM

Janet said...

Yes agrees with fluffy. You were the one in the know in The owl box. Chok full of information. But we still have you here Missy.