**2018 important 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- **Since we knew incubation had not officially commenced & the eggs were likely viable, same day Sofie was found we made the decision to retrieve the eggs and place them in the care of a licensed rehabber in hopes of giving them a chance at life. The eggs were placed in an incubator. Incubation officially commenced on 3/19/18 with projected hatch date on or around 4/15/18. Egg #1 hatched 4/16 at 5pm. Egg #2 hatched in early a.m. hours of Wednesday the 18th. Both are eating, sleeping, and chirping up a storm. With a little luck and lots of hope, they’ll make it to be released in the wild.
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- **Our guestimate 6 or 7+ years old. We presume Sofie’s first brood was 2013-14. Females aren’t mature enough to lay an egg until age one or two. Ergo, at least 6 or 7.
**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 start their mating ritual towards end of February. By the first week of March, Sofie goes into the nest to lay egg(s) two to three days apart. There is a 28 to 33 day incubation period, BOTH Sofie and Owlbert share tending to the eggs. Beginning first week of April, the eggs hatch couple days apart & remain inside the nest tree through 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.
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. Even so, some have found it entertaining to shoot fireworks at them. Others, under the belief that barred owls eat cats and dogs, take shots at them with their bee bee/pellet guns. Last year, careless developers removed 25,000 feet of their habitat, which resulted in the loss of an important part of their habitat but also Tino one of the immature owls.
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.