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Weirdness! How many owls does one yard need?!  RSS feed

 
Deb Stephens
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Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
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We are experiencing "extreme weirdness" these days. Five days ago, 3 little screech owls came visiting just as the sun went down. They lined up on a tree limb over our heads, and made cute little vocalizations at us. They were so persistent in watching and talking about us we got paranoid and decided they must want us to leave. We figured they wanted a drink of water from the wading pool we keep for the dogs and were waiting for us (and all 11 dogs) to go inside. We did.

Next evening, I was sitting out writing on my laptop when I was suddenly showered with cedar needles. I looked up to see a tiny screech owl sitting on a limb over my head. It looked at me for a minute, then swooped down, skimming over my hair on its way to another tree in front of me -- presumably to get a better look. It was soon joined by 3 more owls -- all staring at me and making strange vocalizations. (I should mention here, for those of you who don't know, that a screech owl ordinarily sounds exactly like a bad imitation of a ghost. Kind of a trilling woo-hoo-hoo-hoo, trailing off at the end. NOT THESE GUYS! They were making weird buzzing and metallic clicking sounds like nothing I have heard before. Twice, one of them made a loud metallic clunking sound that reminded me of someone hitting a trash can lid with a hammer. Very odd.)

To make a long story at least a little bit shorter...

This has been the 5th day (or night, rather) of owls and each day they get crazier and more numerous. Last night I counted 6 of them swooping around the yard. They even came down and walked around on the ground in front of the dogs (who are now bored with them and refuse to take the bait). They gather together facing one another and "talking". I swear they are plotting something!! Its like a Harry Potter movie! I keep expecting them to have little letters in their beaks!

Anyway, I can't wait to see how many show up tonight. I'm glad they aren't Great Horned owls -- I might be worried. Has anyone else ever seen this kind of flocking behavior in owls?
 
Joe Braxton
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They're actually the interstellar beings that are piloting those UFO's. and you're next on the "abduction" list.....

Seriously, I've never seen any behavior like that but we don't usually have that many around anyway.
 
John Polk
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Do you have a bunch of trees with hollows? A bunch of mice/small rodents? It's probably too late for mating season.

Be happy. They are probably trying to tell you that they like what you are doing, and want to make your place their new home.

Here is what you may need:
http://www.coveside.biz/screech-owl-house-plans.htm

"Who's on first?"
 
Deb Stephens
Posts: 395
Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
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Joe Braxton wrote:They're actually the interstellar beings that are piloting those UFO's. and you're next on the "abduction" list.....


You sound just like my sons. (Great minds and all that.) This my youngest's exact quote from facebook when I told him about it...

"Aliens. They're in bird form to watch you and analyze your behavior. Soon you will experience a bright light and anal probing. There will be months of nightmares and sensations of lost time. I wish you the best of luck in your new life as a human guinea pig. Many cultures would see this as a great honor to be invited to the alien mothership for experimentation. I see it as a painful way to spend a Saturday night."

My oldest son replied...
"They are the new surveillance drones used by the DEA."

John Polk wrote:Do you have a bunch of trees with hollows? A bunch of mice/small rodents? It's probably too late for mating season.

Be happy. They are probably trying to tell you that they like what you are doing, and want to make your place their new home.

Here is what you may need:
http://www.coveside.biz/screech-owl-house-plans.htm



Thanks for the link! I will save that for some of the other birdhouses I have been wanting to build, but we don't have to worry about not having enough nest sites around us for hollow nesters. We have 75 acres in the middle of nowhere and it butts up against Mark Twain National Forest along the entire longest side. The forest adjoins Hercules Glade Wilderness, so there are plenty of hollow trees. We have lots of Barred and Great Horned owls too -- they just don't like to play in our yard.
 
John Polk
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Here is a site that has plans for dozens of species, tons of good info:
http://nestwatch.org/learn/nest-box-resource-center/nest-box-construction-plans/

The woods are fine for the birds, but it is very enjoyable to have many around the house areas.
 
Deb Stephens
Posts: 395
Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
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Mystery solved! It was the dogs who gave me the clue. For days I have noticed the dogs sniffing the ground around our cedar trees and then looking slowly up the trunks all the way around. Every once in awhile they would stand up and put their paws on the tree and sniff at the trunk, then bite at the tree and jump down quickly, snapping at something on the ground that I never could see. They were all doing it so I knew it was just not canine insanity cropping up. I kept trying to figure out what they were doing, and from the 1/2" diameter holes I kept seeing all over the ground I had a suspicion that cicadas were emerging and climbing the trees to shed their exoskeletons, but... I never could find any! So tonight, after the flock of owls showed up yet again and began swooping all over the place, diving to the ground and back up again, I decided that they must be eating cicadas.

Still... it was only a theory until I could get proof. So I waited and watched the dogs instead of the owls. As soon as I saw Claudius (one of the dogs) head over to a tree, I got up and went over to examine it. Sure enough, way up where he could not reach, I found a small cicada. It is a different species than the huge, noisy ones we had last year, and since it is brown, it is hard to see on the tree bark. I accidentally dropped the poor cicada, and before I could retrieve it to show it to my husband (witnesses are so important in science ) Claudius scarfed it up. Which proves that dogs and owls have at least one thing in common -- they LOVE cicadas. So, mystery solved, and I can stop wondering about aliens and surveillance drones. Too bad! That might have been exciting.

 
Rion Mather
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I was going to say The Birds.

I love owls. You are lucky to have so many show up.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Boy Deb, until you found out the reason, I thought your story sounded like Gwinna, by Barbara Helen Berger. It's a mythic tale with owls and being true to yourself (and to nature). One of my all-time favorite children's books. Berger has other excellent tales as well.



Sounds like your boys are too old for this tale, though I have to say, this tale is far richer about female strength than any Cinderella story. Good for the child in all of us.
 
Deb Stephens
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:Boy Deb, until you found out the reason, I thought your story sounded like Gwinna, by Barbara Helen Berger. It's a mythic tale with owls and being true to yourself (and to nature). One of my all-time favorite children's books. Berger has other excellent tales as well.

Sounds like your boys are too old for this tale, though I have to say, this tale is far richer about female strength than any Cinderella story. Good for the child in all of us.


Thanks Jocelyn! I love books of all kinds and I am not too proud to read kid's books (I admit it -- I read all the Harry Potter books!) As for my boys, yes, they are older (35 and 37) but the youngest is really in to chic-lit and children's literature. He worked in a bookstore for a few years and he is very knowledgeable on the subject. He is now a writer for USA Today (writes Travel articles) and has a book in progress for girls aged 13 to 18, about a shallow, air-headed rich girl named Tiffany Cartier, who inadvertantly points out some important truths about our culture as she blithely shops her way through life. (Its very tongue in cheek.) The character is obnoxious, but the stories are incredibly funny, and really make you think. If he ever finishes it, I think it will go over really well. I will tell him about this book. Knowing him though, he has probably already read it.
 
wayne stephen
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The first time I heard screech owls I was amazed. I was standing at the edge of the woods just after dark listening to night sounds when one of them let loose .
I knew it had to be a bird because of the volume and resonance , no mammal here would make such a hysterical racket. We don't have howler monkeys in Kentucky that I am aware of. I thought - cross between a songbird and a cartoon laughing hyena. I asked around and everyone kept telling me it was a whipporwill - NO ! I know a whipporwill when I hear one . Finally I found some websites that have birdcalls and tracked it down. I would like to encourage their population just so I can here it more often.
 
Deb Stephens
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Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
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Update on our little screech owls... They are still coming in at night and now they are bringing tiny fuzzy babies with them. I think we must have incredible screech owl habitat here because we have lost track of the numbers that show up -- probably at least a dozen each night. I think they are telling their neighbors about the great cicada feast over at the human nest.
 
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