Saturday, April 23, 2011

Owlets Four and Five on the 21st

Since acquiring owlet no. 4 for medical treatment, Sallie, my raptor rehabber friend, has acquired two more young screech owls, which she refers to as “screechlets” to distinguish them from the three great horned owlets, and four barn owlets she was also caring for on the night of the 21st when these photos were taken. One of the screechlets, now designated owlet no. 5, is young enough to fit in with my owlets, and will be added to the nest soon, since being raised by wild owls is always better than being raised by people. Below you can see owlet no. 4, whose face is still worse for the wear, owlet no. 5 (the soon-to-be adoptee), and an older owlet who is keeping them company.

Owlets no. 4 (left), and no. 5 (right). The owlet in the middle is too old to be adopted by my owls, but provides good company for the younger owlets.

Owlet no. 5. Out of focus, but still a good looking kid.

Owlet no. 5. Is sitting up really worth the effort?

The eldest of the screechlets in Sallie’s care. He/she is too old to fit in my with owlets, and thus won’t get to be owlet no. 6, but is a great source of company to the other screechlets.

A pair of the barn owlets that Sallie is raising. They do not like having people around; they both hissed like a punctured high-pressure gas line the whole time we were in the room with them. By the time they are adults that hiss will be ear-splitting.

The great horned owlets were enthusiastic and beautiful, but not very photographable in their crate; out of their crate, they’d’ve been quite a handful (about four handfuls, in fact).


  1. The three Graces :)

  2. some beaky Graces, Billy...

    over-the-top cool photos, Chris. Thanks.

  3. I love the pictures and look forward to watching owlets 4 and 5 in your well-tended box.

    Never got that Texas Blind Snake, did you? Or did the adult owls eat it?

  4. Chris, your blog is wonderful. My husband and I have had an owl take up residence in our owl house. Our first! (that we know of!) I have no clue if the owlets have hatched. Will I hear them? Will I see them? This is SO fascinating. I believe she is an Eastern Screech - gray. Her hubby is reddish/brown - much more beautiful than she. Our grandchildren are in love with "Owlivia and Owliver"! Any help would be appreciated.

  5. Alison,

    I never did get a Texas blind snake, although the adults might find and deliver one at any time. Much as I'd like to have that symbiosis at work in the box, the process of ensuring that the box would remain ant-free involved applying a very fine coating of "Sevin-5" dust to the floor, and I worry about the effect that would have on a snake. So, under the present circumstances, it's just as well that the box is snake-free.

    This is the first time in a decade or more that I've used an artificial pesticide in my yard, but desperate times....

    Don't worry about the owlets. Not only are there two inches of wood shavings between them and the Sevin dust, but Sallie had to apply the Sevin-5 dust directly to the owlets.

    Applied directly to the owlets? Yup. While I was examining the owlets, I noticed what appeared to be black dirt in their armpits and various other locations. Since the owlets have yet to meet dirt, I had to wonder what that was - just a buildup of darkened organic matter, perhaps? When Sallie came to rescue owlet no. 4, I brought that "dirt" to her attention. She didn't know what it was doing there, either, until she looked at it under magnification. What that "dirt" turned-out to be doing there was feasting on the owlets - it was lice.

    Sallie removed the obvious, visible concentrations of the parasites, but, since there was no way of knowing if there were eggs, or a few overlooked adults, still present, the only way to make the owlets lice-free, at least for a while, was to very lightly apply the Sevin-5 dust to the owlets themselves.

    Sallie's used this technique before, and doesn't exactly like it, but, in practice, it's the only way to solve (or, in this case, temporarily control) such a problem. The veterinarians she consults with endorse this technique. Thus, the consensus is that any harm the Sevin-5 dust may do to the owlets is far less than that done by a major concentration of lice.

    BTW, returning to the ant issue, I also took one viewer's suggestion (sorry, can't remember who to credit at the moment), and tried fresh, course ground black pepper as an ant repellant. There's a layer of that about an inch below the surface of the bedding material. With the Sevin-5 dust on the floor beneath the bedding material, the pyrethrin I applied to many exterior portions of the box, and the pepper, the box seems well protected, and there've been no signs of ants since all of those precautions were put in place. Unfortunately, the presence of the pesticides prevents me from drawing any conclusions about the efficacy of the black pepper.

    I can, however, say that the box is nicely seasoned. :-)


  6. I just read that owlet #4 is healthy and back with her/his family. Chris, I can't tell you how happy that made me! Completely made my day!!!!!! You and Sallie are remarkable human beings.

  7. Do I see an owlet up in the entry to the nest box? Are they ready to branch so soon???

  8. Wow, just catching up with your owl family. That's some dedication!
    Thanks for sharing your experiences so we may learn!

  9. I must say they definitely are little bunddles of joy! Keep up the good work :D