Four or five years into our study we began putting video cameras in selected nests to study the prey being delivered to the young. This fascinating work formed the basis for Corie Cauble's M.Sc. thesis. We recorded over 1,500 prey items and demonstrated that the owls in the city feed much more heavily on birds (>50% of prey deliveries) than do their neighbors. This is clearly a result of the very different habitat structure between the two environments. The very open understory of the suburban neighborhoods provides fewer safe roosts for small birds to hide from prowling owls at night.
These videos are a few selected clips from the archives.
||This is one of my favorites. In this clip we see a 4-week old
Barred Owl young standing on edge of its nest cavity in suburban Charlotte. Mom
arrives and proceeds to do her motherly duties, preening her young. Junior gets
tired of all the attention after a while...See
||Another classic, which we just had to title "Desperate
Owlwives" or "Big Love-Barred Owl style." This is, as far as we know, the only
documented case of polygamy in Barred Owls where both females share the same
nest. In the first section, the male (Sugar Daddy) arrives at the nest cavity
(same nest as the preening video) with a mouse. He passes the mouse to Jezebel
(the "extra" female in the menage-a-trois) who, remarkably, then
passes it on to Devon, the "alpha" female, who is incubating in the nest cavity.
This sort of cavity, which we term "branch scars" are very typical. In the
second section, Devon takes off for a breather and then returns to the cavity.
She really, really wants to sit on those eggs...
See for yourself.
Here's a 2009 montage of Mrs. Percy getting ready lay
an egg and then a couple of days later arriving in the nest to incubate
her first egg. In the first section she's readying the "scrape"--a
depression in which she will lay her eggs. In the second part, she's
returning to the nest after a break from incubation. She pauses a while
and then settles down to get that egg warm. If all goes as planned, we
will have a live stream from this nest box to the Cornell NestCam
website. View the video.
||This is why I wear a helmet when visiting Barred Owl nests in
the city: View it.
||Two young Barred Owls ham it up in their nest box.
||This is a two-minute news story that ran on Fox News back in
See for yourself.
||This is not a Barred Owl, but it's so amazing I had to include
it. In this clip someone recorded and Eastern Screech Owl killing a
Sharp-shinned Hawk. Two take-home messages here--those cute little Screech Owls
are tough customers, and male Sharp-shinned Hawks are much smaller than I at
least imagine them: View
pages has links to Barn Owl nestcams and lots of other species. We now have
our own NestCam on line (pull down the "Select a Live Camera" menu and click on
NC Barred Owl. You can watch lots of other species and
participate as a Citizen Scientist helping to interpret archived images through
their Camclickr program.