Season 5 2018 update- Sofie laid two eggs (March 13th & 15th). She left nest tree in the early am hours of Friday the 16th. By Saturday at midnight, Owlbert had been tending to the eggs & repeatedly calling out for her but she never responded. We knew Sofie was likely gone for good—as she would not simply abandon the eggs + stop responding to Owlbert. Sunday the 18th, we found Sofie deceased in next door neighbors backyard. Necropsy the following day revealed she had advanced liver disease. Her swollen liver caused stomach to rupture & bleed out internally. Her death was instant. Two pellets and a BB were also found where she’d been previously shot by a neighbor.
About the eggs- Because we knew incubation had not officially started, good chance the eggs were viable. The same day Sofie was found, the eggs were retrieved & placed in the care of a licensed rehabber w/the experience, aviary, and acres upon acres of mature forest—in hopes they might have a chance at life. Incubation officially commenced on 3/19/18. Egg #1 hatched 4/16 at 5pm. Egg #2 hatched in early a.m. hours of Wednesday the 18th. Thinks looking good so far. They’re eating, sleeping, doing their biz, and chirping up a storm. We will post updates on our Facebook page as they come in.
As for Owlbert- within one week of Sofie’s death, Owlbert attracted a new female to the habitat. Her name is Lola. They’ve bonded. We hope to see eggs from her next March. In the mean time, we’ve had the privilege of watching their bonding process on our new PTZ cam.
Where is the nest- The nest is in the hollow of a River Birch tree on a busy neighborhood street. Sofie & Owlbert took up residence in this tree after the July 2013 Derecho destroyed many mature trees just a few blocks south.
Why choose to nest here- Roaming animals cannot access the nest. Opening that faces N/NE protects the inside from rain and severe winds. Protected from above by another 40+ feet of tree canopy. Mature trees in neighboring yards provide perfect vantage point for watching the nest. The primary threats in this locale are crows and speeding cars. In response to these threats, we’ve adopted innovative solutions without disrupting their habitat.
How old are Owlbert & Sofie- No way to really tell age. Avian vet confirmed Sofie was an adult (7+ years old). We presume Owlbert likely the same. That Owlbert attracted a female during height of nesting season + her behaviors lead us to believe she is much younger.
How many eggs per season- Generally speaking, female Barred Owls lay 2-5 eggs in a season. Two is normal, three is unusual, and four or five is rare. Like clockwork, Owlbert and Sofie would start their mating rituals toward the end of February. By the first week of March, Sofie would lay egg(s) two to three days apart. There is a 28 to 33 day incubation period, BOTH Sofie and Owlbert shared duties tending to their clutch. Then the first week of April, the eggs hatch couple days apart & remain inside the nest tree until the first week of May.
Past owlets at this locale?
2014- With no camera in the tree, we can only confirm at least one egg “Baby” hatched in April, fledged around mid- May, and successfully made its way to the forest area of the habitat.
2015- Sofie laid 3 eggs. Peek, Boo, and Ollie hatched, branched, and fledged by the end of May, then successfully made their way to the forest area of the habitat.
2016- Sofie laid 3 eggs. Sunny, Kool, and Tino successfully hatched, branched, and fledged by the end of May then successfully made their way to the forest area of the habitat.
2017- Sofie laid 2 eggs. Chip and Dusty successfully hatched and branched May 16th. Sadly, Dusty was swept away by tornadic winds the next night. Chip fledged by the end of May and successfully made its way to the forest area of the habitat.
2018- Sofie laid 2 eggs then died. Eggs were placed in the care of a licensed rehabber for incubation & later release back into the wild. Kimbro & Bynum successfully hatched April 16 & 18th. Doing well so far. Will continue to provide updates.
Challenges to having urbanized barred owls neighbors- Barred owls listed under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This means it is illegal to take, kill, maim, or harm the owls or their eggs, as well as damage, cut down, or kill their nest tree without a permit. Despite the law, some have found it entertaining to shoot fireworks at them. Others, under the belief that barred owls eat cats and dogs, try to shoot them. In 2016, careless developers removed a substantial part of their habitat (25,000 square feet of mature trees & leaf surface area) prior to getting approval from the city for a parking lot. The city later denied their application for the parking lot. Their reckless actions were felt immediately killing one of the immature owls. Whereas before various raptor pairs had enough space to live harmoniously & proved crucial to this urban ecosystem, by 2018 constantly at war to kill each other off.
Media links above cover a plethora of challenges & responsibilities that accompany having protected raptors as neighbors. Though challenging, We happily navigate these challenges to preserve Owlbert & Sofie’s habitat, as well as educate the community about urbanized barred owls throughout the city of Tulsa.
On behalf of Team BOOMT, we look forward to hearing from everyone for 2018 season.