Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sarah, Percy & Bill

My family had a wonderful opportunity last night to join some friends as they banded a nest of owlets from a nest in their backyard!  How cool is that?!  Mr. Dave is an avid bird guy, there is probably a better technical term like aviarian or something, but we'll go with bird guy for now.  He helps band, and thus track, migratory birds like the Orioles.  Here is where it all started.
An Owl House for a pair of Barred Owls high up in the tree.  Mr. Dave is wearing a lot of protective gear, goggles, helmet, 2 coats for good reason, Mommy & Daddy were not happy we were poking around the nest.  They swooped down and will injure you with their talons given the chance.  One of our jobs was to yell where they were, what direction they were coming at him from so he could wave them off.  Crazy!

There were 3 owlets in this nest.  An owl lays an egg every day or so, thus they hatch a few days apart and were very different in size and feather development.  They were calling them "Sarah, Percy, & Bill" characters from the book, Owl Babies
The purpose for collecting these little guys was to band them so they can track them if they are ever captured or found again.
My Mr. was handed the pliers and task of banding the birds leg while Mr. Dave kept the talons and beak safely away.  Even as babies their talons are huge and sharp.  And you can hear them snap their beak together.  As a matter of fact, that's one of the ways we could spot the parent way up in the tree, we could hear him snapping in agitation.
Here's little Bill waiting his turn.  Is that not adorable?!!!  Their feathers are downy soft.
I can not believe that we were able to get this up close and personal with an owl.  Most of the older kids took turns holding the owl after donning the protective gloves.
This is about as close as Ellie thought she should get.  This might be Sarah owl.  She had many of her flight feathers in already.  It was so neat to see them at the various stages of their development.  Sarah was definitely a tad bit more feisty. 

Once the owlets were all safely returned to the nest we went back to the house where one of the "traps" (perfectly safe and humane, trust me) set up to catch the Orioles for banding had netted a female Cardinal.
Gorgeous salmon/coral colored feathers on the underside of their wings and tail.  Mr. Dave showed the kids how the feathers on their tummy molt off so they can more efficiently warm their eggs in the nest.  She was safely released right after this photo.  The Orioles return to NE in May typically so we really hope that it might work out to go back and help with the banding at that time.  I believe Mr. Dave banded around 380 last year. 

What a treat to be so close to nature last night.  Thanks Mr. Dave & family!!!
It is difficult to see, but smack dab in the center of this photo is Mommy or Daddy owl is watching all of us and wishing we would just move on.  As we were getting ready to get in the car we could hear it crying out, "Who"  "Who's cooking for you" .  That's what it sounds like anyway! 
Have a great day everyone!


  1. well you already know what i think.... ADORABLE!!! oh how neat!

  2. That's really cool and a little scary too! I bet the mom and dad were relieved when it was all over. But what a neat experience for you!

  3. I've never seen owls up close----how very cool! Thanks so much for sharing this!!!


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