Thursday, May 6, 2010

response to comments/ideas on earlier posts

Few things are as wondrous and also entertaining as watching baby owls come into their own, with all the flapping and climbing and little flights..watching them learn to use their wings properly through trial and error. It's one of the best "shows" in all of nature. And their personalities really come out during this process, too.

That was what I had hoped for when I was suggesting improvements and trying to prevent an outcome that would have ruined everyone's "enjoyment of the owls" for sure! I wanted us to CONTINUE to enjoy the owls in a way that I know is precious and unforgettable.

There is a chance that the improvements put in place will be used and that the owlets will somehow adapt to it. Like I said in an earlier post, it beats the heck out of what was there before. But it's not ideal by any means.

I am still hoping for a great outcome for these owlets because I have personally fallen in love with them.

So, by trying to explain how to set it up so that we would all have this happy experience, which I have had numerous times, of joyfully watching the branching and fledging of learning to fly, I was hit with all kinds of accusations. One person even said I was "ruining her happy place".

In my mind, it would really ruin her happy place if the owlets' lives ended on the ground below the box. What then of her happy place?

So it was with genuine love and the hope that we could all participate in the most fun part of watching an owlet grow up, that I began to explain what needed to be done to ensure that.

If you've read my book about my life w/ Wesley, you know that the period of time when he was experimenting w/ his wings was one of the most entertaining parts of our time together and that Wendy and I had to run into the bathroom and explode in gales of laughter on a regular basis because he was so cute and so sincere and so comical (he did not brook being laughed at so we had to laugh away from him).

Ah well. And now here we are! Life is complicated.

ivorybill was right in pointing out that I have a severe chronic illness that prevents me from branching out much more in what I'm able to do. As it is, I only have about 4-6 hours of wakefullness per day, having had strokes and comas and a continuous migraine for almost 13 years. So it's with great effort that I write, answer questions, maintain the blog, and do occasional speaking engagements (eg. for ea speaking engagement, I have to stay for at least 2 nights in the hotel, take multiple naps, then sleep almost continually for nearly a week before and after the event).

So, for now, a research project about who to contact and how to go about this might be out of my reach.

I will, however, mull over the idea of what could be said in a letter and try to do the writing part as best I can.

I think we can start with how they've done things in England and go from there.

Also, someone who wants to run with this might contact Nancy Conney and ask her where to start and what to say and how to put together an excellent branching system.

I think the boxes that are already online, the ones w/ the 8-10 inch deep entrance, are a good start, and there is a box design somewhere that has a sort of entry where the owl goes into a little hallway first, then turns into the main room of the box. This prevents weather from blowing directly into the living area and keeps the owlets far from the door.

The box must be bigger than the ones we're seeing in San Diego. Ideally the owlets should be able to fully stretch AND FLAP their wings a lot while still in the box, to gain strength in their wings.

I will try to come up with a standardized way of explaining this and some resources.

But I don't even run my own website. Wendy does. I just don't have the physical capacity to do all that. I am technically disabled but don't like to label myself that....

There are many others, though, who do have the energy and time to do the research needed and I hope someone will rise to the occasion and take that on, and will decide that this is a project they'd like to take on and run with.


Sarah said...

Stacey thank you for framing the situation so clearly with your well-chosen words.

I am bewildered by people who say they "just want to enjoy the owls" and "want to learn" but then dismiss any comments about the lack of appropriate branching venue as "owl agitating" and "Carlos bashing" and by saying people who bring up these concerns are the ants at the proverbial picnic.

I too am desperately hoping we don't see an unhappy ending for these owlets. And when I have more time in my schedule I want to look into this issue in more detail. (Am currently working full time and having to travel frequently between my home in Maryland and Michigan to manage the care for my mom who survived, barely, a massive stroke in December). I'm wondering if an organization such as the American Bird Conservancy might be enlisted to help with this.

Anyway, it's all good food for thought. Thanks for all you do, especially given the extremely challenging parameters you are living within.


Faire said...

Last night there was an idiot in the chatroom going on and on about how she was glad that Stacey was banned because Stacey is not a nice person because Stacey said mean things about Tom the boxmaker and Tom is a nice man.

There is more fluff in that woman's brain and postings than a barnful of owls could produce in a year.

It made me sick.

Faire said...

After reading not just the chats there but some of the comments here, it seems that there is a group of people who believe that it is OK to do anything, absolutely anything, no matter how horrible and despicable and how how much suffering it causes, as long as you present yourself as "nice" while doing it.

And that is perhaps the scariest thing of all.

kayj said...

Thank you Stacey for sharing your knowledge and making the sincere effort to help people know what is the right thing to do for the owls.

I think that many people on that site are more interested in sharing recipes and their medical conditions than learning about owl behavior.

I've started looking in on the Buddy & Fluffy site - roomier owl box, the entry is too high for an accidental fall, and no mindless gossip. Unforunately, from the only picture of the exterior, it also appears to be perched on top of a pole - no branching access.

I'm almost dreading seeing these lovely owlets reach that stage.

Dadu said...

Thank you for letting us know your medical condition and therefore giving people the opportunity to be supportive of you and not have expectations of you that are not possible.
(We know you made a little typo there with the 8-10 foot vs 8-10 inches from the bottom)
I wish people would just ignore rather than pass on negative stuff that is happening else serves no purpose nor does it benefit anyone. What energy we have needs to go into coming together and understanding how we can protect and help the owls to flourish. You know that old saying, "If you can't say something good, don't say it at all"; not easy to do but is possible.
I will get to doing some research; I don't know who Nancy is but I can google her and go from there.
You are a precious resource and an inspiration to so many. Rest well, you are loved.

Janet said...

Hi Stacey, I'm going to look into the Fish and Game Wildlife here and go from there. Passioned people make wonderful people to try and make changes! Thank you for the drive and motivation!

Anonymous said...

I've watched Cooper's Hawks and Great Horned Owls prepare to fledge, and there is quite a bit that goes into it before they actually fly. Spreading the wings in the nest, flapping in the nest, bravely venturing onto the branches just above the nest and just perching there, flapping in the branches, climbing further and further from the nest in the nest tree, hopping to nearby trees, and taking short flights. It is very amusing watching the early flights. The hardest part of the process seems to be learning how to land well. The young Cooper's Hawks hang out together when they first fledge, and I've seen them knock each other off the branches accidentally when they land next to each other. I also saw one make an early hunting attempt, He tried to catch a Northern Flicker. That was amusing to watch as well. From what I've seen, a lot of their early self caught meals seem to be lizards.

One of the chicks from the owl nest I've been watching fell out of the tree into a channel below. It's a channel for an endangered fish, the silvery minnow, and when the female picked that nest, there was no water in it, but now it has water. From what I've been told, the little guy managed to climb out of the channel, but then one of the Cooper's hawks from the nest up the path was harassing him. People were afraid the hawk would kill him, so they ran to Wildlife Rescue, which has their headquarters nearby. (This nest is right over a path at a state park in Albuquerque, so lots of people know about it and there are usually people around watching the owls.) Neither adult owl was nearby to protect the baby. Wildlife rescue made at least one attempt to return the baby, and plan to attempt it again. I've been out of town for 5 days birding in Arizona (where I saw my first spotted owl!) so I don't know where things stand now. I'm worried about the little guy. I don't know if the parents will take him back after he's been out of the nest for a while, and also I know the owlets stay with their parents for a long time after they fledge, much longer than the Cooper's Hawks do. I did hear that if he can't be returned, one of the local rehabbers has a foster mom owl he will go to.

Anyway, sorry to digress. I don't get many chances to talk about this stuff because the people I work with are not interested in birds and nature, and they are my passions.

I have been watching the owl websites, just checking in briefly daily, but not participating in the chats so I can't really comment on that, except that sometimes it seems that the anonymity of the internet brings out the worst in people, I think. Things turn into a flame war all too easily. I've seen it happen on list serves. It is sad that the person who is concerned about the owls is the one being attacked.

Stacey, thank you for sharing your knowledge. I have learned so much reading your blog. I've gone back and read some of your past entries from when you started the blog and I resonate with things in just about every post. We even have a lot of the same favorite books. So now I'm going to check out some of the other ones you recommend.


Stacey O'Brien said...

Thanks so much, Allison! You really know your stuff! I enjoyed reading your comment, and I understand about how people don't want to hear about your passion! It's been such an interesting experience to suddenly have people care so much about owls, when for so many years I felt like almost the only one, outside of the small community of owl biologists I knew. But in real life? I kept my mouth shut.

But it's so darn interesting and the owls/hawks are so amazing! I'm thrilled that people are discovering this for themselves through these web cams!