2005 was a fairly
disastrous year for our Barred Owls. Very heavy rains throughout the nesting
season were probably the cause of a high rate of nest failures. Because the nests
are in tree cavities, often poorly drained, we suspect that some nests flooded
or just became too wet for the adults to successfully incubate their eggs or
keep recently hatched young warm.
News of our known pairs:
Near Central and Eastway, Aristotle did not nest in the box she used last year (it fell out of the tree with 1 young just hatched and the other just coming out of its egg), but appeared later in the spring with 3 young. She was our most successful mother of the year.
The Berkeley pair has a new female. The old male ("Berkeley Bob") died sometime in the winter of 2003-4 and was replaced by a new male prior to the 2004 season. His mate, "Berkeley Babs," died in the late spring or early summer of 2004. The new male was able to pull off the "single dad" thing and successfully raised their fledgling to independence. This young bird was radio tagged and has settled down between Queens University and the Queens Rd. West/Queens Rd. intersection, near Ardsley Rd. We were able to catch and radio tag both these birds on one night (a first!) and this male, unlike his predecessor, does not seem to be bothered by the radio (we couldn't keep a radio on the old bird), so we should get some interesting data on the new bird's territory. These birds are using the same sycamore they nested in last year, smack in the middle of Latta Park. They're the first birds we know of that are already incubating.
Across East Blvd, The "Dilworth East meets Dilworth West" pair continues their peripatetic ways. When we first met this pair in 2001, they were on Sarah Marks Rd. Their nest tree was cut down after that breeding season, so they moved to the intersection of Dilworth East and West, where they nested in 2002 and 2003. Once again, the city cut their nest tree down. (Owls need trees with big holes in them, while the city doesn't like trees with big holes in them because they occasionally fall on cars and houses.) So, in 2004, the birds nested across Park Rd, near McDonald and Ideal Way. This year they're back across Park somewhere near Ewing St. We never found the nest this year, but both birds have been seen there recently. Hootie, the male in this pair, needed a new radio--his battery had run down. He disappeared early in the nesting season as did the female. As he was well trained to come in to my whistle for free mice, when he didn't show up after I walked all over the neighborhood, whistling away, I suspect he may have died.
The Bromley pair, whose nest tree blew down in a storm in early March last year, has moved and we were not able to locate them. Their two young from last year were radio tagged and have settled down. One was living in and around downtown Charlotte. It roosted sometimes where 6th and 5th Sts. go under the Belkway or, alternatively, all the way on the other side of town near the intersection of Morehead and Freedom Dr. This bird has also spent time in the 4th Ward, around Pine and 9th Sts. It disappeared in the spring, and we suspect its very risky choice of a spot to live led it to an untimely end in traffic. The other bird moved all over town and has settled down in Edgehill Park and at the Duke Mansion, only a few hundred yards from its nest. This bird seems to have replace the female of the Ardsley Rd. pair, which died last summer.
We're not exactly sure what's going on with the Ardsley Rd. pair. We do know that the female died last summer. One of the young from the neighboring pair (Bromley) has settled down in the old haunts of the old Ardsley female. The new bird is roosting in exactly the same spots that the old female used and is often found hunting in Edgehill Park. If this bird is a female and has paired with the old Ardsley Rd. male, we don't expect it to mate. Most large birds of prey do not breed before their first birthday ("hatchday"). We have had at least one juvenile male successfully raise young, but wonder whether a female will be physiologically ready to lay eggs.
The Bay St. birds returned to their nest of many years and were among the many failled nests this year.
The Colville male was killed by a car last spring (the female succeeded in fledging their young as a single mom). We never found birds around the old nest, so we don't know what happened here. The most likely scenario is that the female took up with another male and moved some distance from her old nest.
The Colony Rd/Rockbrook female (tagged as a fledgling in the 2002 season on Princeton near Freedom Park) was recently recaptured to replace her radio. She had the beginnings of a brood patch and nested along Rockbrook. Another failure.
The Commonwealth pair were active, but did not raise young.
We did not locate the Commonwealth south (Commonwealth and Monroe) pair.
The Cumberland Rd. (alongside Freedom Park) pair is hanging around last year's nest tree, so they should get going soon. We tagged the female last year. Her mate, Billy the Kid, is wearing a transmitter with a dead battery. He's decided he doesn't want to get caught again, so we'll only be able to follow the female this year. These birds nested near the intersection of Lilac and Forest Park Rd. They had two young leave the nest--one of our few successful pairs in 2005.
The Evergreen nest box was used and 1 young raised.
The Plaza/Kensington nest failed.
The Nature Museum pair was in their same nest as last year and fledged two young, both of which eluded all our many attempts at trapping them.
A new pair was discovered near the intersection of Chilton and Sharon Rds when a young was found on the ground. The young was banded and put back up in a special box built for the occasion but disappeared after a week or so.
King George and Wilhamena, formerly of Queens Rd East, are nesting near the intersection of Malvern and Sharon, just up the hill from the Chilton/Sharon pair. These guys raised two young, one of which we ALMOST caught over on Sherwood.
The Llewellyn pair (Percy & the Mrs.) tried nesting in their chimney again, and failed again.
Near Providence and Wendover, Laverne, bereaved widow of Vernon, who died crossing Providence the previous year, did not breed.
As always, we're looking for new pairs of Barred Owls. If you know of a pair, please send an e-mail