Friday, May 7, 2010

Making Changes: Part 2 : The Alliance : We are doing this!

If you want to know how the organizing is going, look at the comment section under the blog entry titled: Making Changes.

I vote for the yahoo group that's already been set up. I also think we ought to use the word Barn Owl in our name, because owls can be very different in their behavior. For example: Great Horned owls generally are not attracted to boxes, and many owls will not adapt to anything other than their original habitat.

The American Barn owl IS a specific species - there are many species of Barn Owl - Asian ones, African ones, European ones, etc. If you use "America" to mean "North America" you are fine with using "American" Barn Owl Alliance or Defenders.

I'm partial to Alliance also because it was the 'good' in the good vs. evil of the Star Wars series. The Jedi warriors were the "Alliance", right? We are like the jedi warriors for owls. heh heh.

Since there's a yahoo group already established, let's run with it! A lot of people really hate facebook, myself included. It's just so random and goes off in so many different directions, and it's hard to protect your privacy ..I dunno...I like the yahoo group idea. I've seen it work well for very specific groups with specific goals.

I do think we ought to become a 501(c)3. Any lawyers among us that could put that together without us having to scrape together a big hunk o' money to pay a lawyer?

I also agree that Charlotte ought to be the only one calling Nancy Conney, since she's so busy w/ her many raptors and it's baby season, which is just SLAMMED with injured barn owls, especially in San Diego county. And you ALL KNOW WHY!!

And we are going to change that.

Also, I think for now, our goals are pretty specific: We want to change laws to require adequate boxes for barn owls that are
-Big enough
- have a deep enough entrance so barn owlets don't fall out
- have an adequate branching system included w/ the box
- must be installed in the shade
- must be properly ventilated
- a "log" type structure that mimics a tree, that they can grab onto w/ their talons and "walk" their way back up to the nest while beating their wings - another important pre-flight behavior.

I am so glad he did install a new perch for them to hop to! I haven't seen it. I just can't bring myself to go over there quite yet. Give me a little time and I'll go over and look.

About doing chats: I think that's a great idea, but I would not be up for a 24/7 chat. I mean, I guess someone could put one up but if it's just sitting there all day long, it can easily descend into a recipe sharing chat or a gossip line.

for me, I would like to do more focused chats, that are scheduled, for answering questions and having discussions. Then we'd all know what we wanted to ask or talk about, and we'd know when we were going to gather each week to do so. What do you think of that?

Yes, my blog is copyrighted, but you can quote it like you would any copyrighted material as long as you mention the source of the quote (eg: as Stacey O'Brien states in her blog, "blah blah blah". Like that.)

Here are the links that have been set up so far:

Name: Barn Owl Alliance or Barn Owl Defenders or either of those w/ the word "American" before it.
Yahoo group:
Email for a mailing list being assembled:
(Itacri, if this is not ok, let me know! I assume it's ok and ran w/ it!)

I think we ought to keep "Barn Owl" In the name, even though other species occasionally do use these boxes, because they are specifically for barn owls. Also, our current mission is specific to Barnies. We may grow into a much bigger organization, who knows? We may end up being THE alliance for owls or something like that.

But for now, I think American Barn Owl Alliance is great! I like Alliance because we are equals, we are allied people from all walks of life with a specific concern and goal, which is to change federal and state laws to require that the above list of features be present in any barn owl box put up, and that those laws be enforced w/ specific systems (permits? Penalties? Fines? - if you mess with a barn owl in any OTHER way, for example, I think it's a mandatory $25,000 fine and 6 months in jail. Why is it then ok to lure them to your property only for them to work so hard to raise babies that are doomed from the beginning?)

As I alluded to above, American Barn Owls are a specific species, different from the barn owls on other continents.

But I'm not the queen of this, so if you want to be Barn Owl Defenders, or whatever, that's fine. I just think we ought to stick to the one thing for now.

After we've succeeded with this and the laws and enforcement are in place for the barn owl box situation, we could work on the rodent poison issue. I was in Rite Aid today and saw a whole shelf of rodent poison. It made me sick to think about all that poison, in all these stores across our country, being put out into the wild for our brother and sisters in the wild to consume. Scary! But that's a different battle.

We probably ought to do one battle at at time, eh?

By the way, I am happy that Carlos has put something up for those poor babies to hop to. They have half a chance now! Thank God!

I'm very excited that people have taken the ball and run with it! This is AMAZING! I never dreamed in a million years about anything like this happening! It's beyond my wildest hopes and it's just awesome! We CAN make a difference! People have been doing that for decades and now it's our turn! We're educating ourselves, learning, contacting experts..this is being well thought out. I'm so proud of everyone!

--------------------- Answers to questions about the current behavior of the owlets --------------

A commenter asked about why the babies are grabbing the pellets on the floor of the box - they are trying to do the behavior where they grab onto a branch with all their might and beat their wings to build strength in their wings that will be needed for them to fly. That box also seems a little too small for them to really beat their wings properly, but that issue has been around for eons w/ too small hollow trees, etc. so I think they'll still adapt.

The same commenter also asked about the hops the babies are taking. That is the preflight behavior! Those hops will then extend (when the owlets are ready) to the new perch Carlos installed. See, without that perch, there would have been nowhere to hop to, and they would have eventually fallen to the ground instead.

About the feathering: The feather is formed within a shaft made of keratin, which is a waxy substance that we have in our hair and fingernails. The new feather being formed is a living thing w/ blood and nerves in it. As it becomes complete, the blood and nerves recede and the part of the shaft that can be pulled off becomes very white. The owl grooms and pulls of the white waxy stuff, and out blooms a perfect feather. The shaft recedes, so the tips of the feathers come out first, going down, until the base is finally finished and it's all feather and no shaft.

When there are too many of the flight feathers still in the shafts (they're called "pinfeathers" at this point), there isn't enough lift to fly, but the babies need this time to build muscle in their newly developed wings. Remember when they were just nubs? So they are doing exercises to make muscle across their chest and into their wings, and grooming their feathers daily as they emerge from the shafts.

This is one of the most exciting times - watching the owlets as they hop and branch. The expressions on their faces through all this are priceless! They can move the tiny muscles in their faces, which is why they can be so expressive! And their curiosity grows daily, so you see all the head gyrations as they become fascinated with every little thing in their world. They are truly coming into their own, and their individual personalities are bursting forth. It's such a joy to watch this process, which is why I was so motivated to try to get it so that we could all see the wonderful event unfolding in the way that it should! It's SUCH a treat!

So I encourage you all to enjoy the show and not deprive yourselves of it just because I've been banned or you've been banned. We can still watch the video feed, which is what we care about and can continue to learn from. If we're going to become advocates for owls, it behooves all of us to continue to watch, so as to educate ourselves not just with book knowledge but with observational understanding. All of us can become naturalists, and it's often naturalists, rather than biologists, who have made some of the most important positive changes in our country (look at how Roosevelt worked to establish the national parks, for example).

If you are told that a baby "just flew away on its own" and it disappears, do NOT BELIEVE IT! They do NOT just fly off. They MUST go through this branching phase for awhile before they can fly. You'll be able to watch their progress from straight hopping, to hopping w/ some lift, to some crazy flights w/ a terrified expression on their face and their talons held out in front of them, to watching them figure out how to use their wings to brake and hover, and then to actually fly accurately and pounce on a branch w/ confidence and make a solid landing.

Landing is a big issue for them.

So, if a baby disappears and you're told her just 'flew away' and he didn't go through those phases, know that he probably fell and injured himself land call Nancy and see what can be done! Now that there's a new place to land, I think they will probably (I say PROBABLY) will manage. The only thing missing now is something for them to use to climb up. Again, putting astroturf on one of the ladder supports might work since the supporting legs are slanted... Here's hoping! :-)

It looks to me like you were effective when you pointed out problems on the Owlivia and Molly sites! I'm told that both sites have added perches!

You are to all be congratulated for your first triumph as the alliance!


Stacey :-)


Anonymous said...

Yayyy thank you so much for answering my questions!!! I really appreciate it =) I knew absolutely nothing about owls a few months ago. Now I can't seem to get enough information!

I know a lot of people were worried about Wesley, but from what I've seen the past 2 days or so, he seems to be acting just like the rest of them. He's up on his legs a lot more and he's joined in on the wing exercises and hopping (today was the first I saw him hop a bunch of times). Max has been getting some large hops in, even trying to grab onto the inside of the box.

Also, when they are doing their wing exercises, it's almost like they know where to position themselves. The one flapping goes in the middle of the box and the others are in the corners. It's amazing.

I better cut this short, once I start I can't shut up! haha But I'm really so thrilled that this group is coming together and that changes are already happening!!

Thanks again,

Anonymous said...

Oops, wanted to include some links for you to see what O&O's platforms look like ...

Also, here's the new perch at M&M's ...

Anonymous said...

Stacey, after looking over the Yahoo Group, it functions very similar to an outside mailing list so I think it's ideal to get everyone started and connected. You should probably just direct everyone to that group so we can get those interested in the same place. :)

Anonymous said...

Yahoogroups lists come with a chat room, or at least they used to (I haven't looked lately because the group I am involved with uses another chat program), so if we want to do chats at specific times, we could start out using their chat function and see how it goes.

Monica K. said...

I am so happy to see the new perching ledge. I suspect without your expertise the problems with the box would not have been addressed. The owlets are lucky to have you as their guardian angel, I think.

And kudos to Carlos for putting the interests of the owlets first. The owlets have TWO guardian angels. :)

This whole experience may end up having long-term, national (international?) consequences for improving the circumstances of barn owls everywhere. What an exciting thought! Would Carlos ever have imagined that when he installed the camera in the box two years ago?

Gaffney said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlotte said...

Stacey, you are AMAZING. Thank you SO much for the time you put in to this one. It IS the framework we needed to get this off the ground! I will take the goals list and see if Nancy wants to add anything to it.

I join you on the idea of focused chats at designated times, perhaps weekly, at a time that works for most people between east and west coast time? Since we'd love to have you as a regular participator on chats, why not tell us what day/times are best for you. (And telling us what time WORKS for you will not commit you to ATTEND each one!!)

SO good to hear that with a simple credit we can use quotes from your blog, you've given us such amazing information. How about pictures from your book's site, though? Any difference there? I made the suggestion this am that we might want to have a barn owl in the wild on the face page of yahoo site. I LOVE the picture of you and wes that was put up but a) I didn't know about copyrights and b) felt like a "wild one" might be good.. What do you think?

This is SO darn exciting!

Eagle Eye said...

Very nice blogg Stacey! Your input and expertise has gone a long way and I like the fact that you are starting an Barn Owl Alliance, hope it gets interest here in Florida where they are an Endangered critter.

Thom said...

Not only am I encouraged by the development at Molly's box, I am encouraged that YOU, Stacey, are encouraged.

People are hearing, and some of us are listening. We will all do what we can, each to our own abilities.

Just know that you have made a difference in the lives of not only Molly's owls, but in the lives of all barn owls. I cannot thank you enough for your efforts.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Stacey for correcting my impression that Barn Owls are the same the world over! Like I said earlier, I learn something here every day. I might be in the "slow" class, learning at my own speed (don't we all?) but I'm happy to be here, and grateful for the gentle correction I NEEDED. The credibility of the whole movement could suffer if its advocates are uninformed.
I'm constantly amazed by the grace with which you handle yourself and share your knowledge. Some of the most brilliant people I know are like that. They never lord it over people, never make them feel stupid when they easily could.
You have such a gift for communication! Thank you so much for ignoring the voices that said "Dont bother"! The world is a richer place for that sharing.

And look where it's brought us all!
It's exciting and rewarding to work together for change. In spite of all the denial and dismissal of concern, there IS a new perch up there. Even his resistance to that was a gift, because it inspired people to want to change the laws.

I'll keep working on seeing how Audubon can help. It may be only in the form of laying out the roadmap to legislative change, but even that would be huge. At present their policy is not to become involved with "artificial" types of habitat enhancement. They won't have anything to do with bluebird boxes, for example. But (as far as I know) bluebird boxes don't have the safety issues that barn owl boxes do. And NATURAL habitat for Barn Owls is disappearing. A few years ago in MA, the island of Nantucket had only one nesting pair left. I can't see why Audubon wouldn't want to advocate for safer nest boxes for them. As a national oganization, they could reach a much wider audience, and with very little effort on their part lend strength to this movement.

Dadu said...

Stacy has chosen the Owl Defender Yahoo Group as the place to gather and for the email list: very cool, I will pick another job soon. Please delete the from your contacts.

Very exciting to be a part of this project!!!

Claudia Hanson

Charlotte said...

Stacey.. can I do a very brief PM w/you? Promise not to abuse the email address if you will provide it for this.. Mine is Wait, that doesn't work either cause anyone could write and say they were you.. Dang, any ideas?

Faire said...


I'm not sure what your point is.

I didn't think we were aiming to copyright a single box design.

I wouldn't care if lots of companies built properly designed owl boxes and even made a profit from selling and installing them.

I am all for getting good building plans and making them available free to the public.

The more properly-designed boxes there are out there, the better it will be for the owls.

Seeking a legislative mandate that all owl boxes must be at least X by Y by Z in dimension, within a specific distance from cover and branches, and spelling out a minimum fledging arrangement doesn't require a copyright.

Just as I don't think we should copyright this -- the plans should be available to everyone for free -- I don't think anyone else should, either. Some people may not have woodworking tools and would be happy to pay someone else to build the boxes and install them.

And we can't copyright it with any effectiveness anyway. There are all sorts of ways to customize boxes -- you can style them with mansard roofs or gable roofs, etc. Just as you can't copyright generic items such as jeans or sneakers. All you have to do is change or remove the logo and/or some flourishes and you can sell a virtually identical product. It's only when you pretend something is a genuine famous-name brand and it's not, that you get into trouble.

I don't want to get into branding or a turf war. I don't think it's necessary. and it diverts attention from our true mission.

I seriously doubt there is anyone out there waiting to "steal" "our" box design, copyright it, and sell it while locking us out. Seriously.

If I read you wrong, I apologize. I just got up and haven't finished my first cup of coffee.

Faire said...


I just changed the name and eddress:

I hope people like that better...


Faire said...

I hope that doesn't complicate matters!

Ter-o-fla said...

oh, no! I joined the group this morning, and now it has disappeared?

Ter-o-fla said...

-well, after doing yet another search, I have thankfully found it again. :)

I am glad it did not get lost.

Gaffney said...

I didn't realize we had our aims set yet.
My only desire was to stop people from throwing something unsubstantial together and cause another bad situation. Wasn't planning on keeping the design to ourselves or selling it for profit.
I don't care if lots of companies build them and make a profit from a good design either. I think it's rather the point.

"I seriously doubt there is anyone out there waiting to "steal" "our" box design, copyright it, and sell it while locking us out. Seriously."

I guess the point is to make fun of someone. Gee, I thought the project was open to everyones ideas. Boy, was I wrong. Thanks for enlightening me in such a kind way.

Stacey O'Brien said...

Gaffney, I think your ideas are important and your points are valid and should be thought through. There is nothing wrong with your ideas! Please keep them coming! No one is to be put down for ideas. This is a period of brainstorming, and when we brainstorm, we throw every idea out onto the table and see if we can work with it or adapt it with another idea. Now is the time for all ideas to be poured out without judgemet. UYou had some valid points.

I think some people had bren looing at the entire UK and the wa rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffd

I'm leaving this as is so you can see what happens when I'm narcoleptic, should you be curious. I then wake up and have to delete all the nonsense and try to get back on track w/ whatI'm trying to say...and then I delete all that stuff and continue w/ my point, which is that no idea is dumb or wrong! All ideas must be considered amd gtjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj

ok,i must sleep. I have to travel tomorrow and deliver 23 hamsters to the pet sitter, and delivler fiona to the pet sitter in the opposite direction...

Stacey O'Brien said...

By the way, that last comment was not meant to take anything away from what I was trying to SAY. I just left in the stuff that interferes when I'm trying to write I literally fall asleep instantly while my hands are still on the keyboard, then wake up and have to delete the rows of one letter and pick up where I left off. I find it interesting from a sort of removed, objective point of view. I once fell asleep while reading one of my chapters to Wendy over the phone and awakened to her yelling, "Stacey! Stacey! Wake up!". I also 'fall asleep' (it's more like passing out cuz it's so sudden) in the middle of talking to someone and will say something inane like, "Well it's all been loaded in the truck already". If a person isn't use to it, they'll say, "Truck? What truck? What are you talking about?". My friends who are used to it say, "Stacey! Snap out of it! You're asleep!" haha.

I take some comfort in knowing that Einstein had the same affliction, although I don't have Einstein's intelligence or imagination obviously. Few of us do!iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj

Ok this is ridiculous. Nighty night!

Victoria B said...

Perhaps we should try to arrange for communication through the phone with conference calling. I notice it can be difficult trying to communicate through clips of ideas.

Gaffney, I don't believe Faire was ridiculing what you had said, which goes to my point that it's easy to misconstrue someone. Much easier to catch a misunderstanding on the phone before it has time to root.

Please, if someone thinks they have been slammed, address that person directly with that concern. We all want the same thing, and if we remember to breath and smile while dusting ourselves off, we can achieve anything...together.

Victoria B said...

Stacey: Thanks for leaving the text in which you fell asleep while typing. It is important for those who have medical issues to share the problems it causes with the people they interact with. I now have a better understanding and a deeper love for you.

You are an inspiration to all. Your spirit cannot be supressed, slowed down a bit, but I recognize it shining through your ravaged body.

Thanks for all you do, and it's a pleasure to get to know you and work with you on this project.