Where is the nest? The nest is in the hollow of a River Birch tree on a busy neighborhood street. The opening is about 25 feet up, lots of coverage overhead, and the opening faces N/NE. 2017 will be the fourth year they’ve nested in this tree.
Why choose to nest here? Though it seems odd Owlbert & Sofie chose an urbanized locale surrounded by a constant stream of cars & human activity, their choice was no accident. It is protected from above by another 30-40 feet of tree canopy, roaming animals cannot access the nest, opening that faces N/NE protects the inside of cavity from the rain and severe winds. The two primary threats at this locale are crows and speeding cars. In response to these threats, we utilize unique and innovative solutions without disrupting their habitat.
How old are Owlbert & Sofie? Our best guestimate is (at least) 5 or 6 years old. Barred owls aren’t mature enough to lay an egg until age 1 or 2. Assuming Sofie did not brood prior to 2014, ergo, at least 5 or 6 years old.
How many eggs did Sofie brood in 2016? Generally speaking, Barred Owl females lay 2-5 eggs in a season (2 is normal, 3 occurs but not often, 4 or 5 is rare). The average incubation period is 28-33 days. Sofie (and at times Owlbert) brooded 3 eggs in 2016. Eggs were laid 3/5, 3/8, and 3/11. Sunny (Egg 1) hatched 4/6. Kool (Egg 2) on 4/7. Tino (Egg 3) on 4/10.
Past Owlets at this locale? We do not know how many eggs Sofie brooded in 2014. We only know one egg successfully hatched and fledged. “Baby” made its first appearance on May 5th, 2014 at 5pm. In 2015, Sofie laid 3 eggs. Peek, Boo, and Ollie successfully hatched, branched, and fledged by the end of May..
Challenges of urbanized owl neighbors? Links to local news illustrate the plethora of challenges & responsibilities that accompany having protected raptors as neighbors.
Barred Owls are protected raptors under The Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. In short, that means it is illegal to take, kill, maim, or harm the owls or their eggs. It is also illegal to damage or kill their nest tree without a permit. Even so, some have found it entertaining to set off fireworks near them. Others, under the belief that barred owls eat cats and dogs, take shots at them with their bee bee gun or real gun. Last year, careless developers removed 25,000 feet of their habitat, which resulted in the loss of one of the immature owls.
Though it is challenging, midtowners happily navigate these challenges to preserve Owlbert & Sofie’s place, as well as educate ourselves & the community about midtown's beautiful urbanized barred owl family.
On behalf of Team BOOMT, we look forward to seeing everyone on the chat feed and Facebook page for 2017 season.