Thursday, January 16, 2014

Squirrels Removed, Owls Return

Screech owl cam’ viewers will be pleased to know that, although there's nothing to view yet, with the removal of the squirrels, the owls are checking out the nest box with increasing frequency. (Yeah, I'll probably graph it, but not at the moment.)

I have to hope that they won't actually begin nesting until March, as has been the case most years, because I still have to integrate a high-definition color/monochrome camera into the box, and into my homegrown owl cam’ software. The quickest way to integrate it into the box may be to build a new box using a much simpler design that I've been thinking about for a few years. The new design would solve a number of shortcomings in the current design that've become apparent over the last thirteen years, and would also add enough new interior space to accommodate the high-def camera, which, regrettably, is much larger than any other camera I've used in the nest box.

All I need in order to pull this off is sensible owls that will wait until March to nest, some monetary blood letting (as opposed to outright hemorrhaging) to complete the new audio/video setup, no nasty surprises from the new camera, a little luck with the software work, and a massive, sustained surge of energy that'll make it possible to accomplish all of that in whatever time I have. It's that last bit about the energy that worries me the most.

Interested parties may, as they see fit, wish me luck, knock on wood, and so forth.


  1. Anonymous10:29 AM CST

    Good Luck Chris, everyone here in North Alabama is rooting for you!

  2. I rejoice in your virtue and hope that everything works out. Love the nest cam, look forward to it every year.

  3. Anonymous7:56 PM CST

    good luck, we all know the huge commitment this is for you. I can't wait for March! I'm going to look for snowy owls tomorrow.

  4. Anonymous5:44 PM CST

    Just curious, Chris, how do you remove the squirrels? They have taken over our owl box and I've already seen one screech owl hanging around so I'd like to make the house available to him in case he finds a partner this year.

    1. Barbara,

      My squirrel removal technique involves taking down my box at night, opening it up, and, while wearing welder's gauntlets (great, inexpensive gloves available from any home improvement store that has even a minimal welding supplies section), picking up each squirrel and placing them in the grass, so they can run away as they see fit.

      Well, that's the theory, anyway.

      What actually happens is the squirrels play dead until you have your hands around them, and then they becoming a writhing mass of pure muscle that is absolutely determined to be anywhere other than where it is. I don't think I've ever managed to hold onto a squirrel for more than two seconds before it becomes a fur-bearing bullet headed as far away from me as it can get.

      All things being equal, I'd prefer not to terrorize my squirrels, but, because the goal is to get them out of the box and not have them come back, that fear probably helps to ensure that they won't return. (Although I usually find I that they'll return to the nest box in about a week, and that they have to be evicted three times before they realize that the evictions are going to happen every time they return.)


  5. The video you took of the owlets is wonderful. Loved the part when your hand became a branch, Silly owlets don't want to sit up straight. Sorry we couldn't help but sounds like Stevie was available.