I followed up on Markus's offer to go out for a day with their owl researchers. This morning, I drove out to Huntsville Utah and met William, a summer employee, and Bryce, a more serious and useful volunteer than myself. We drove to Eden, then a bit further, then on a back road, then on a winding dirt road, and finally parked before our mile+ hike. The location of the owls is safely locked away in my lack of memory.
Because I was the old, visiting guy, they didn't make me carry the ladder during the day.
The owl nests we were hunting for were boxes put in trees 10 years ago. They hadn't been checked since, but we did have a good hand-drawn map. William and Bryce had been up last week checking the first 20 boxes and had found one nest of Flammulated Owls, which was the topic of this research project. It had four eggs in it, so our first stop was to see if any had hatched.
The trick to this owl work is to catch mom napping in the nest box during the day. Dad is around somewhere and brings food at night, but doesn't hang around the box. The first step is to sneak very, very quietly up on the nest with a long pole with a hat at the end. Before mom wakes up to look around, you poke the hat in the hole (entry way) so she can't leave. Want some owl irony? The hat was from Hooters. Here we have William waiting for step 2.
- Two were lost
- Three had missing covers, so no animal would use them
- One had become a squirrel nest
- Two had Flammulated owl nests. One had three eggs yet to be hatched and one had four nestlings. You normally have 2 or 3, so finding one with 4 live, happy nestlings was a good find.