a reminder about owl nesting season and giving owls space


Jay Carlisle
 

Lots of you know this already but this is an especially sensitive time of year for nesting owls.  With all bird species I'm familiar with (i.e., I've studied their nesting ecology and/or read scientific literature), they are much more likely to abandon a nesting attempt early in the nesting cycle - i.e., during courtship, nest-building, and early incubation.  And, since many owls begin nesting quite early (as early as January for Great Horned and a month or 2 later for some others), the next couple months are the time when most owls will feel most vulnerable or stressed.

 

For owl species that nest in shorter trees/shrubs (i.e., willows) and/or in smaller thickets of vegetation surrounded by open country, they have less room to hide and are more likely to flush when approached by a human or predator.  If they do flush, I imagine it's likely much more stressful than for a forest owl flushing from one tree to the next.  Importantly, flushing can expose them to diurnal predators, including ravens.  Even if they aren't being flushed each time, for owls are nesting in a popular birding area there's potential for repeated visits (by different birders or the same person/people returning to a favorite birding site) to cause a much higher cumulative stress load than a site than only receives an occasional visitor - and this could lead to a failed or abandoned nesting attempt.

 

I say all this to suggest that people be careful/deliberate in approaching known or suspected nesting sites.  Any isolated clumps of willows or other shrubs/trees could be suitable nesting habitat.  I'm including a couple pictures that Heidi has from fieldwork around the state that show potential nesting habitat.  And, for fun, a picture of a fledgling Saw-whet I found during some surveys many years ago in a riparian draw many miles away from conifer forest (this was June and after fledging so a less stressful time for this bird & its parents - but I still backed away quickly to keep it from flushing). 

If you do see an owl, please keep your distance.  After all, we all care about birds and know that they have many additional stressors in this modern world.  And, what's more important?  A better look at or photo of an owl or birds being able to nest in peace without too much disturbance/too many approaches?

 

Thanks for your time and please feel free to pass this on!


Jay


Cliff Weisse
 

Thanks for the reminder Jay. I've been amazed how early owls will begin courtship and nesting. I once had a singing Saw-whet with a pair chasing each other around some junipers in a Canyon near Twin Falls in January. Doesn't seem like nesting season but???

Cliff

On 2/12/21 10:45 AM, Jay Carlisle via groups.io wrote:

Lots of you know this already but this is an especially sensitive time of year for nesting owls.  With all bird species I'm familiar with (i.e., I've studied their nesting ecology and/or read scientific literature), they are much more likely to abandon a nesting attempt early in the nesting cycle - i.e., during courtship, nest-building, and early incubation.  And, since many owls begin nesting quite early (as early as January for Great Horned and a month or 2 later for some others), the next couple months are the time when most owls will feel most vulnerable or stressed.

 

For owl species that nest in shorter trees/shrubs (i.e., willows) and/or in smaller thickets of vegetation surrounded by open country, they have less room to hide and are more likely to flush when approached by a human or predator.  If they do flush, I imagine it's likely much more stressful than for a forest owl flushing from one tree to the next.  Importantly, flushing can expose them to diurnal predators, including ravens.  Even if they aren't being flushed each time, for owls are nesting in a popular birding area there's potential for repeated visits (by different birders or the same person/people returning to a favorite birding site) to cause a much higher cumulative stress load than a site than only receives an occasional visitor - and this could lead to a failed or abandoned nesting attempt.

 

I say all this to suggest that people be careful/deliberate in approaching known or suspected nesting sites.  Any isolated clumps of willows or other shrubs/trees could be suitable nesting habitat.  I'm including a couple pictures that Heidi has from fieldwork around the state that show potential nesting habitat.  And, for fun, a picture of a fledgling Saw-whet I found during some surveys many years ago in a riparian draw many miles away from conifer forest (this was June and after fledging so a less stressful time for this bird & its parents - but I still backed away quickly to keep it from flushing). 

If you do see an owl, please keep your distance.  After all, we all care about birds and know that they have many additional stressors in this modern world.  And, what's more important?  A better look at or photo of an owl or birds being able to nest in peace without too much disturbance/too many approaches?

 

Thanks for your time and please feel free to pass this on!


Jay

-- 
Cliff and Lisa Weisse
Island Park, Idaho
cliffandlisa@...


Patricia Weber
 

Thanks for your gentle reminder.  Would you be willing to post this information to the Facebook page Idaho Birding.  Also could we share this information with our local Audubon groups?

Pat

On Fri, Feb 12, 2021 at 10:47 AM Jay Carlisle via groups.io <carlislejay=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:

Lots of you know this already but this is an especially sensitive time of year for nesting owls.  With all bird species I'm familiar with (i.e., I've studied their nesting ecology and/or read scientific literature), they are much more likely to abandon a nesting attempt early in the nesting cycle - i.e., during courtship, nest-building, and early incubation.  And, since many owls begin nesting quite early (as early as January for Great Horned and a month or 2 later for some others), the next couple months are the time when most owls will feel most vulnerable or stressed.

 

For owl species that nest in shorter trees/shrubs (i.e., willows) and/or in smaller thickets of vegetation surrounded by open country, they have less room to hide and are more likely to flush when approached by a human or predator.  If they do flush, I imagine it's likely much more stressful than for a forest owl flushing from one tree to the next.  Importantly, flushing can expose them to diurnal predators, including ravens.  Even if they aren't being flushed each time, for owls are nesting in a popular birding area there's potential for repeated visits (by different birders or the same person/people returning to a favorite birding site) to cause a much higher cumulative stress load than a site than only receives an occasional visitor - and this could lead to a failed or abandoned nesting attempt.

 

I say all this to suggest that people be careful/deliberate in approaching known or suspected nesting sites.  Any isolated clumps of willows or other shrubs/trees could be suitable nesting habitat.  I'm including a couple pictures that Heidi has from fieldwork around the state that show potential nesting habitat.  And, for fun, a picture of a fledgling Saw-whet I found during some surveys many years ago in a riparian draw many miles away from conifer forest (this was June and after fledging so a less stressful time for this bird & its parents - but I still backed away quickly to keep it from flushing). 

If you do see an owl, please keep your distance.  After all, we all care about birds and know that they have many additional stressors in this modern world.  And, what's more important?  A better look at or photo of an owl or birds being able to nest in peace without too much disturbance/too many approaches?

 

Thanks for your time and please feel free to pass this on!


Jay


Jay Carlisle
 

Facebook is coming next :-)

On Friday, February 12, 2021, 11:15:52 AM MST, Patricia Weber <birder1932@...> wrote:


Thanks for your gentle reminder.  Would you be willing to post this information to the Facebook page Idaho Birding.  Also could we share this information with our local Audubon groups?

Pat

On Fri, Feb 12, 2021 at 10:47 AM Jay Carlisle via groups.io <carlislejay=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:

Lots of you know this already but this is an especially sensitive time of year for nesting owls.  With all bird species I'm familiar with (i.e., I've studied their nesting ecology and/or read scientific literature), they are much more likely to abandon a nesting attempt early in the nesting cycle - i.e., during courtship, nest-building, and early incubation.  And, since many owls begin nesting quite early (as early as January for Great Horned and a month or 2 later for some others), the next couple months are the time when most owls will feel most vulnerable or stressed.

 

For owl species that nest in shorter trees/shrubs (i.e., willows) and/or in smaller thickets of vegetation surrounded by open country, they have less room to hide and are more likely to flush when approached by a human or predator.  If they do flush, I imagine it's likely much more stressful than for a forest owl flushing from one tree to the next.  Importantly, flushing can expose them to diurnal predators, including ravens.  Even if they aren't being flushed each time, for owls are nesting in a popular birding area there's potential for repeated visits (by different birders or the same person/people returning to a favorite birding site) to cause a much higher cumulative stress load than a site than only receives an occasional visitor - and this could lead to a failed or abandoned nesting attempt.

 

I say all this to suggest that people be careful/deliberate in approaching known or suspected nesting sites.  Any isolated clumps of willows or other shrubs/trees could be suitable nesting habitat.  I'm including a couple pictures that Heidi has from fieldwork around the state that show potential nesting habitat.  And, for fun, a picture of a fledgling Saw-whet I found during some surveys many years ago in a riparian draw many miles away from conifer forest (this was June and after fledging so a less stressful time for this bird & its parents - but I still backed away quickly to keep it from flushing). 

If you do see an owl, please keep your distance.  After all, we all care about birds and know that they have many additional stressors in this modern world.  And, what's more important?  A better look at or photo of an owl or birds being able to nest in peace without too much disturbance/too many approaches?

 

Thanks for your time and please feel free to pass this on!


Jay


John Shortis
 

Well said Jay.
When Amy and I visited the Great Gray in Montour last month we remained in our car, and it was remarkably confiding, even perching on a street sign at one point, about 50 feet away from us. Cars make excellent blinds sometimes!

John Shortis  

On Friday, February 12, 2021, 10:47:24 AM MST, Jay Carlisle via groups.io <carlislejay@...> wrote:


Lots of you know this already but this is an especially sensitive time of year for nesting owls.  With all bird species I'm familiar with (i.e., I've studied their nesting ecology and/or read scientific literature), they are much more likely to abandon a nesting attempt early in the nesting cycle - i.e., during courtship, nest-building, and early incubation.  And, since many owls begin nesting quite early (as early as January for Great Horned and a month or 2 later for some others), the next couple months are the time when most owls will feel most vulnerable or stressed.

 

For owl species that nest in shorter trees/shrubs (i.e., willows) and/or in smaller thickets of vegetation surrounded by open country, they have less room to hide and are more likely to flush when approached by a human or predator.  If they do flush, I imagine it's likely much more stressful than for a forest owl flushing from one tree to the next.  Importantly, flushing can expose them to diurnal predators, including ravens.  Even if they aren't being flushed each time, for owls are nesting in a popular birding area there's potential for repeated visits (by different birders or the same person/people returning to a favorite birding site) to cause a much higher cumulative stress load than a site than only receives an occasional visitor - and this could lead to a failed or abandoned nesting attempt.

 

I say all this to suggest that people be careful/deliberate in approaching known or suspected nesting sites.  Any isolated clumps of willows or other shrubs/trees could be suitable nesting habitat.  I'm including a couple pictures that Heidi has from fieldwork around the state that show potential nesting habitat.  And, for fun, a picture of a fledgling Saw-whet I found during some surveys many years ago in a riparian draw many miles away from conifer forest (this was June and after fledging so a less stressful time for this bird & its parents - but I still backed away quickly to keep it from flushing). 

If you do see an owl, please keep your distance.  After all, we all care about birds and know that they have many additional stressors in this modern world.  And, what's more important?  A better look at or photo of an owl or birds being able to nest in peace without too much disturbance/too many approaches?

 

Thanks for your time and please feel free to pass this on!


Jay


rbird1286
 

Just a note, but I've just posted it on the two camera club Facebook pages we have in Treasure Valley.

Ruthann Greene

On Friday, February 12, 2021, 11:15:52 AM MST, Patricia Weber <birder1932@...> wrote:


Thanks for your gentle reminder.  Would you be willing to post this information to the Facebook page Idaho Birding.  Also could we share this information with our local Audubon groups?

Pat

On Fri, Feb 12, 2021 at 10:47 AM Jay Carlisle via groups.io <carlislejay=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:

Lots of you know this already but this is an especially sensitive time of year for nesting owls.  With all bird species I'm familiar with (i.e., I've studied their nesting ecology and/or read scientific literature), they are much more likely to abandon a nesting attempt early in the nesting cycle - i.e., during courtship, nest-building, and early incubation.  And, since many owls begin nesting quite early (as early as January for Great Horned and a month or 2 later for some others), the next couple months are the time when most owls will feel most vulnerable or stressed.

 

For owl species that nest in shorter trees/shrubs (i.e., willows) and/or in smaller thickets of vegetation surrounded by open country, they have less room to hide and are more likely to flush when approached by a human or predator.  If they do flush, I imagine it's likely much more stressful than for a forest owl flushing from one tree to the next.  Importantly, flushing can expose them to diurnal predators, including ravens.  Even if they aren't being flushed each time, for owls are nesting in a popular birding area there's potential for repeated visits (by different birders or the same person/people returning to a favorite birding site) to cause a much higher cumulative stress load than a site than only receives an occasional visitor - and this could lead to a failed or abandoned nesting attempt.

 

I say all this to suggest that people be careful/deliberate in approaching known or suspected nesting sites.  Any isolated clumps of willows or other shrubs/trees could be suitable nesting habitat.  I'm including a couple pictures that Heidi has from fieldwork around the state that show potential nesting habitat.  And, for fun, a picture of a fledgling Saw-whet I found during some surveys many years ago in a riparian draw many miles away from conifer forest (this was June and after fledging so a less stressful time for this bird & its parents - but I still backed away quickly to keep it from flushing). 

If you do see an owl, please keep your distance.  After all, we all care about birds and know that they have many additional stressors in this modern world.  And, what's more important?  A better look at or photo of an owl or birds being able to nest in peace without too much disturbance/too many approaches?

 

Thanks for your time and please feel free to pass this on!


Jay


rattlesnake4873
 

One December long ago I chanced upon two GHOW mating in cottonwood trees in CAs high desert, so I am not surprised that they begin courtship here in February.

Thank you for relaying this cautionary advice. I hope it is heeded.

Dean

On Fri, Feb 12, 2021 at 9:47 AM Jay Carlisle via groups.io <carlislejay=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:

Lots of you know this already but this is an especially sensitive time of year for nesting owls.  With all bird species I'm familiar with (i.e., I've studied their nesting ecology and/or read scientific literature), they are much more likely to abandon a nesting attempt early in the nesting cycle - i.e., during courtship, nest-building, and early incubation.  And, since many owls begin nesting quite early (as early as January for Great Horned and a month or 2 later for some others), the next couple months are the time when most owls will feel most vulnerable or stressed.

 

For owl species that nest in shorter trees/shrubs (i.e., willows) and/or in smaller thickets of vegetation surrounded by open country, they have less room to hide and are more likely to flush when approached by a human or predator.  If they do flush, I imagine it's likely much more stressful than for a forest owl flushing from one tree to the next.  Importantly, flushing can expose them to diurnal predators, including ravens.  Even if they aren't being flushed each time, for owls are nesting in a popular birding area there's potential for repeated visits (by different birders or the same person/people returning to a favorite birding site) to cause a much higher cumulative stress load than a site than only receives an occasional visitor - and this could lead to a failed or abandoned nesting attempt.

 

I say all this to suggest that people be careful/deliberate in approaching known or suspected nesting sites.  Any isolated clumps of willows or other shrubs/trees could be suitable nesting habitat.  I'm including a couple pictures that Heidi has from fieldwork around the state that show potential nesting habitat.  And, for fun, a picture of a fledgling Saw-whet I found during some surveys many years ago in a riparian draw many miles away from conifer forest (this was June and after fledging so a less stressful time for this bird & its parents - but I still backed away quickly to keep it from flushing). 

If you do see an owl, please keep your distance.  After all, we all care about birds and know that they have many additional stressors in this modern world.  And, what's more important?  A better look at or photo of an owl or birds being able to nest in peace without too much disturbance/too many approaches?

 

Thanks for your time and please feel free to pass this on!


Jay

--
Dean Jones
"A world of facts lies outside and beyond the world of words." Thomas Huxley
208-859-0072


Larry Arnold <larnold47@...>
 


Jay, excellent note and a very important reminder.  

Inspired me to revisit the BOW species accounts (Birds of the World, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY) of owls that have been documented in Idaho, mainly to refresh my understanding of their breeding seasons, e.g., species-specific dates for the onset of pair-bonding, nest site inspection and selection, etc.  I took a few notes and compared them with eBird bar charts for Idaho (migrant owls in particular), and although these are just "rough draft notes" I thought I'd share them with birders on IBLE (see attached). 

Just for fun, on a snowy day in River City,  
Larry
 


From: "Jay Carlisle via groups.io" <carlislejay@...>
To: "IBLE" <ible@groups.io>
Sent: Friday, February 12, 2021 10:45:43 AM
Subject: [IBLE] a reminder about owl nesting season and giving owls space

Lots of you know this already but this is an especially sensitive time of year for nesting owls.  With all bird species I'm familiar with (i.e., I've studied their nesting ecology and/or read scientific literature), they are much more likely to abandon a nesting attempt early in the nesting cycle - i.e., during courtship, nest-building, and early incubation.  And, since many owls begin nesting quite early (as early as January for Great Horned and a month or 2 later for some others), the next couple months are the time when most owls will feel most vulnerable or stressed.

 

For owl species that nest in shorter trees/shrubs (i.e., willows) and/or in smaller thickets of vegetation surrounded by open country, they have less room to hide and are more likely to flush when approached by a human or predator.  If they do flush, I imagine it's likely much more stressful than for a forest owl flushing from one tree to the next.  Importantly, flushing can expose them to diurnal predators, including ravens.  Even if they aren't being flushed each time, for owls are nesting in a popular birding area there's potential for repeated visits (by different birders or the same person/people returning to a favorite birding site) to cause a much higher cumulative stress load than a site than only receives an occasional visitor - and this could lead to a failed or abandoned nesting attempt.

 

I say all this to suggest that people be careful/deliberate in approaching known or suspected nesting sites.  Any isolated clumps of willows or other shrubs/trees could be suitable nesting habitat.  I'm including a couple pictures that Heidi has from fieldwork around the state that show potential nesting habitat.  And, for fun, a picture of a fledgling Saw-whet I found during some surveys many years ago in a riparian draw many miles away from conifer forest (this was June and after fledging so a less stressful time for this bird & its parents - but I still backed away quickly to keep it from flushing). 

If you do see an owl, please keep your distance.  After all, we all care about birds and know that they have many additional stressors in this modern world.  And, what's more important?  A better look at or photo of an owl or birds being able to nest in peace without too much disturbance/too many approaches?

 

Thanks for your time and please feel free to pass this on!


Jay