It's hard to believe we are already halfway through Baby Bird Season. And while it's been as busy as ever, we are grateful for the cooler temperatures we are experiencing this year. We're also happy to report fewer intakes over the Fourth of July holiday than usual, possibly due to there being significantly less firework activity. Fireworks are really hard on animals—wild and domestic—so this was one more thing to be grateful for!
Bocce Ball Competition Hits Pause Button While Baby Great Horned Owl Is Reunited With His Family!
Sonoma's Depot Park offers locals a beautiful setting for picnics and bocce ball. And in June, a curious young Great Horned Owl found himself in the middle of the action after tumbling from his nest high up in a Eucalyptus tree near the bocce ball courts and next to the parking lot.
Fortunately, his finder heard the commotion caused by his fall, found him right away, and called us for help.
The little guy was an active brancher, meaning he was beginning to explore outside his nest in the branches of the tree. There are many reasons why a branching raptor may fall to the ground, including sibling rivalry, being startled by loud noises or human activity, being mobbed by crows, or even a making a simple misjudgement in moving from one tree branch to another. At this stage, they are quite literally learning to gain their footing.
Once on the ground, he managed to get up into a low crevasse in the trunk of a neighboring tree, but due to human and vehicle traffic, it wasn't safe to leave him there. Fortunately, BRC volunteer and videographer Derek Knowles was at BRC when the call came in and volunteered to go and pick him up.
A thorough physical exam confirmed this active youngster was about 45 days old—a typical age for him to begin leaving the nest to explore his surroundings. No injuries were found, not even any bruising, and he was in great condition. We were grateful he had been found quickly before he wandered into the parking lot or was noticed by a predator.
All he needed now was a lift back up into the nest tree. Fortunately Seamus, from Merlin Arborist Group was able to help us reunite this little guy with his family just two days later.
With all the activity in the parking lot and on the bocce ball courts, we were a little concerned about this reunite. Happily, the players were more than willing to pause their bocce ball games as we worked to return the little one to his family.
There were still a couple other considerations to manage. This baby was older than those we normally renest, so there was a distinct possibility he or any siblings in the tree could easily become spooked and jump out of the tree again. In addition, the owlet's parents were active and attentive, and our good intentions notwithstanding, they could easily pose a threat to Seamus.
While we watched from below, ready to try and catch any jumpers, (or at least soften their fall), Seamus climbed into place and hoisted the baby up into the tree. He slowly and carefully placed the little guy on a branch, letting him get his balance and settle down before gradually removing his hands and lowering himself out of sight.
The baby Great Horned Owl steadily climbed higher into the tree until he was lost from view in the upper branches—a perfect release!
Two days after reuniting this youngster with his family, he was spotted with a parent and a sibling. Both youngsters were displaying typical brancher behavior under the watchful eye of the adult. Another happy ending thanks to a caring community and the generous support from Seamus and Merlin Arborist Group!
Where Have All My Hummingbirds Gone? We usually see lots of hummingbirds this time of year at backyard feeders. This year, however, many of those feeders are sitting abandoned with nary a hummer in sight and you may be wondering why...
Fear not—there's no cause for concern! According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, our overly wet winter is the reason hummingbirds and also Orioles seem to be MIA at backyard feeders. Heavy winter rains produced an abundance of natural food sources this year including super blooms and a corresponding surge in insect populations. With plenty of natural foods available, it may be a while yet before they seek out your feeders. Remember to keep your feeders clean
Even if you are seeing fewer visitors to your backyard feeders, it's vitally important to keep them clean. If you don't want to take them down until later in the season, make sure you continue to clean and disinfect them weekly. For more information, click here.