Monday, April 20, 2009

Tree Climbing (and baby owls)

None of this baby owl cuteness would be visible if a brave soul didn't climb up the tree and send them down to the earth-bound owl fanciers on the ground.

Enter Jeff, RAPTOR's resident tree climber and bander. Being a certified acrophobe, I can only marvel at the courage and skill it takes to do this. Here are a few of the dozens of photos I took while watching Jeff in action.

Starting at the bottom.

Already too high up for me.

Now it's getting really scary.
(That multi-colored bag hanging off his left hip is the official Owlet Transfer Device.)

Don't look down!
Owlet acrobatics on high {shiver}
What goes up must come down.

Thanks, Jeff, for letting us have a glimpse into your world.


Susan Gets Native said...

One does need to be a special kind of crazy to do this sort of banding.

And yes, did look like you were about to puke a few times.
: )

holly-the-person said...

You have to wonder what the owlet feels about all this and how scary it must be for him. Are he and the new one still doing well? Is it common for Mama Owl to accept an owlet that appeared out of nowhere?

KatDoc said...

Actually, Holly, the owls didn't seem too distressed by all the excitement. I have talked to other banders, those who catch little birds in nets, and they say the birds are not upset by the handling. I have seen banders hold them during the process, and the birds are not freaking out.

The baby birds I monitor in my nest boxes (bluebirds, tree swallows, and purple martins) are usually OK with being held briefly, too. On one occasion, I had a House Sparrow that trapped an adult male Purple Martin in his nest gourd. The sparrow flew off and the martin stayed in the gourd when I came to help. I thought perhaps he was hurt, and gently took him out of the gourd. He sat quietly in my hand without thrashing while I checked him out. When I opened my hand to let him go, he sat another second or two before leaving. I don't think he was scared or upset, because he came back to make a nest in that same gourd.

I think birds are more resilient than we give them credit for.

At last check, the two new roomies were doing well. According to Susan, since owls can't count, Mama Owl doesn't really know how many babies she had before or has now - she just feeds any open mouth in her nest. The RAPTOR folks foster birds of prey whenever it is needed, and it seems to work.

Thanks for asking!


holly-the-person said...

I guess it's just basic biology for birds - open mouth, insert food, doesn't matter how many today or tomorrow - but it makes me laugh thinking about it.

And I am still so in love with those fuzzy bloomers!

holly-the-person said...

In thinking this over, I can relate to mama. I know how many boys I gave birth to but the actual head count at the dinner table (and on weekends..every weekend) varies. So I'm basically doing the same thing - just feeding whatever hungry mouths show up at my nest. I just need more prep and planning time than she does.

Mary said...

His job is fascinating. Owl faces are equally fascinating. Thanks for sharing this, Kathie!