Saturday, May 8, 2010

The official YAHOO group for the Barn Owl Alliance:

If you signed up and then the group disappeared, fear not! All that's happened is the name has been changed and the eaddress. The new e-address is:

I've created an alliance account for barn owl Alliance discussions ONLY! :

Personal email from readers can be sent to me at:

(NOTE: If the mail is about planning an event, please don't use the address, because it gets mixed up in reader mail and I may not get to it in the timely way it needs to be attended to. For event planning, please go to my website and click on the contact button there.)

I agree that we ought to be trying to push for a certain standard in all owl box design, something like:

All barn owl boxes must have:
This perching system
That climbing back up system
This depth from the door to the floor
That level of ventilation
This amount of perpetual shade
Be free from obstacles that could fall on it
These dimensions
The following approved design

Then anyone could build it and continue their business as owl box builders, only this time, they'd have to not only adhere to design standards, but would have to get a permit - which needs to be EASY TO GET and NOT COSTLY so that people can make a living putting these up, and so that nonprofit organizations such as aren't stressed by fees.

Enforcement should be put into the existing code that's already enforceable by the dept of fish and game statewide, and the Federal Dept of Fish and Wildlife.

They already enforce all KINDS of laws about raptors and owls, and already have in place a police force that does such things as seizures of owls in homes that have no permit for the owl, making sure rehab centers don't have unpermitted, unreleasable owls. EVERY owl in captivity has a permit and is regulated.

Also, they catch and prosecute anyone who has shot an owl or tried to mess w/ a wild nest in a harrassing way...they issue permits to biologists for things like going in and banding, and regulate how that's done..

So we already have the structure in place and don't have to reinvent the wheel. All we have to do is push for new regulations on owl boxes! Thank God we don't have to come up with a police force and a way to pay for it! It's paid for by hunting and fishing permits, which kind of creates a bit of a conflict of interest - ie. they are more interested in helping hunters and fisherpeople...but they do have officers just for wildlife interests beyond game, and those people are very dedicated, like the federal officer who's been wringing her hands over the owl boxes in San Diego for years, but has no law by which she could DO anything about it!

So the officers themselves would welcome a reason to be able to intervene! We are here to untie their hands!

I'm going to be offline for a couple of days, I think, and back on on Monday. It's because I'm moving over to my Colorado home away from home and it takes relocating my dog and all of my hamsters (imagine finding a place for all those hamsters for over a month!)...packing, and there's a lot more than regular packing because I'm also packing for projects to be done while in Colorado.

While there, I'll be meeting w/ Sy Montgomery, the "Indiana Jane" I referred to in other posts, who has travelled extensively in the Amazon, in Borneo and New Guinea, and the Sudarbans where the man eating tigers live. Not just travelled, but immersed herself and studied elusive creatures such as the Amazonian pink dolphin, the man eating tigers, the cassowary in New Guinea, and I think the Snow Leopard in the Himalayas.

She and I have developed a great friendship over the phone and internet but have never met in person! I also hope to connect w/ Marc Bekoff if he's in town. If possible, will no doubt pick both of their brains (that is such a gross expression. I always picture it visually, unfortunately) about what we're trying to accomplish, and ask for any suggestions or guidance.

The Jane Goodall Institute has fought many battles that were far more contentious than what we are trying to do, with the bushmeat and poaching going on all over Africa. They are swimming upstream against a deeply entrenched, continental cultural issue that is so enormous it's hard to even wrap your head around it (another rather odd visual image!).

So I'm sure they've learned a lot of lessons about what works and what doesn't! Since Marc Bekoff has done work w/ Jane Goodall, maybe he has some ideas for us. I don't even know if I'll actually be able to connect with him, but I'll try.

If you want to call it the Stacey O'Brien Barn Owl Alliance, as has been suggested, it might give it a bit of a punch, I don't know. I'll let you guys decide about that. I will continue to write about owls, as in the next book, and the book is doing well in many languages and countries, so it might give recognition internationally. But I DO NOT need the ego gratification of having it called that, and I realize that this is not MY organization. It is OUR organization. In fact, all I'm doing is writing. It's you guys who are coming up with action and self-assigning different jobs. It will take a lot of different kinds of skills to do this - people w/ legal knowledge and abilities for the 501(3)c and a website if someone is able to pull that off, logo - if someone can do that,...

About using a wild barn owl - I think that's a great idea. There are a lot of "stock" photos of wild barn owls. I wish I remembered where I got it, but for a long time I had a free stock photo of a barn owl flying low over a field - a close up - as my screen saver.

There are a lot of free photos we could use.

As for using pics off of my website, they just need to say "" on them in a watermark, or be attributed as such. The pictures that look like the cover of the book are mostly shot by Wendy Francisco. The others are pretty much taken by me. If the pics are put into a book or flyer or newspaper, they should have a tiny line as you see in other photos that say "photo by Stacey O'Brien" or "Photo by Wendy Francisco". If there's confusion as to which is which, the attribution is better than none at all. Most photos that have me in them were taken by Ann Baker.

Wendy licenses the use of the pictures she took for the book covers, worldwide, and is paid a small royalty on that based on book sales. So in cases where the pictures are being used by a publisher, they might want to take that into consideration.

Once we decide on the full name of the organization, I'll ask Wendy (who owns and operates my website) to put a link up on the site in a prominent place so that other people who are interested can join!

As mentioned above, I've got an email address now just for the Alliance:

My other, unlisted email is so inundated w/ business concerns (I have something like 9 separate publishers, each with their own people, around the world, plus people I need to talk to about events and journalists I need to communicate w/) that it overflows and bounces mail even from my poor longsuffering editor and the people at Simon and Schuster. I don't know how big authors do it, truly. I only have one book in 9 languages. How do people with many books in 50 languages do it? Maybe they have assistants? Anyway...

I will try to stay on top of this new email...

please use this ONLY for the alliance business.

Regular reader email can be addressed to

I am painfully slow at responding to reader email but I do get to it eventually!

I hope people will respect the intended use of these email addresses. On the alliance email, I'll only respond to email that relates directly to what we're trying to accomplish, to try to keep it from getting full and overwhelmed by email that isn't about what we're trying to do here. It should be an email dedicated to the business at hand as we communicate w/ each other in forming our group and establishing our goals and how to accomplish them.

Thanks, everyone, for the work you've already done and the great ideas you've already put out there!

If anyone is wondering what I'm talking about, a lot of planning is going on in the "comments" sections after my blog entries, so please read those to see what people are doing and how we are organising.

We do need to switch much of this over to the yahoo group, which is more conducive to discussion than the blog.

I also do think the chat option on the group ought to be activated. I don't want to have to moderate it, but I sure don't want it to descend into a place to put spam, either. Does anyone know how to do that?

Maybe we ought to schedule our meetings on the chat, so we all know when to go there.

As has been pointed out, it needs to be a time that's good for both West and East coasters.

A lot of people are working until at least 6pm, but that makes it 9pm in the East, which is some people's bedtime...

I am, personally, much more functional in the evenings. In Colorado, I'm not available Sat-Tues nights, which leaves Wed, Thurs and Fri nights, if we want to do an evening group meeting.

On the other hand, I'll be back from Colorado in June, and will be more free - BUT I do tend to travel, If I'm travelling, on weekends, for events.

That's my schedule. The rest of the time I'm sleeping, so I can set an alarm and be up for meetings.

It doesn't have to be evening, by any means. I'm just letting you guys know when I'm personally available but that doesn't keep you guys from picking another time of day or week. If you pick mornings or early afternoon, for example, I'll adjust! ;-)

The most important thing to me is that all the people who are actually working on some aspect of this can get together at one time to compare notes, for now.


Love and Peace,


DJ Sommers said...

Was just at the chat room and the nest box builder was on there. Many were questioning him about the box design and if he would consider adding perching systems for fledging. His answer was that he installed a perch on the front of it and that's really enough. 'Why would anything else be necessary?" he asked. He went on to say that after 20 years and 26,000 owl boxes, his design has evolved and there is plenty of room for flapping and fledging isn't a problem. "See," he said, "one of the owls is flapping now." It was a stunted flapping at best, obviously. Many questioned him in diplomatic ways, but he was steadfast in his belief that the owls boxes were perfect as was their placement.

DJ Sommers said...

Forgot to mention that another chatter suggested he use the style of the UK boxes and he stated they are much too large.

Clueless or dangerous, or both?

Stacey O'Brien said...

Yeah, they're too large for him to make a big profit with a minimum of cheap materials. They must be that large for the owls to exercise their wings! And what if, god Forbid, a mother had a large clutch of 10 babies? What then? Would they slowly roast in the sun until they are cooked?

How are they supposed to do the all important flapping, which builds up their little chests and wings so that they are like tiny body builders, if there's no room to flow through and learn to flp their wings all night as they look for food.

This guy, and man like him are not concerned with the success of the babies and the population of barn owls. They seem to only be concerned w/ selling their products and convincing people to buy said products.

But no worries! We are readying ourseves to change the laws for out brother and sister owl. I'm still trying to convince o=people that horked pellets are NOT poop! -Stacey

CZ said...

Forty-six members already and this group was just formed Friday!

Tom Stephan said...

I have been busy of late, a wedding, I am flying a new peregrine falcon etc. I finally bought a newer computer and am ready to try to log onto the alliance again. This after I was unable to at the last attempt.
I have photos of boxes that I have installed recently and fledgling -return to the box- ramps called "Fledge its". I also have some R and D ideas for federal standards, that I wish for all to discuss.
My question is this, is this the Barn owl alliance site? if not could you send me a link to the correct site? I searched "G", this site is the results of the search for the BOA.
Regards, Tom Stephan