2019 Owl Boxes Attract Sawhet Owls: The Results by Andrew Fisher
19 boxes were cleaned, repaired, and installed in late winter 2019. Some of these were boxes that I built and some were from an old Eagle Scout project. One additional box was going to be taken down and cleaned, but then was found to be occupied by a flying squirrel and hence was left in place. Of the 19 boxes that were available for owls to use, 3 boxes were used this season.
1. 1 box (checked on May 18, 2019) near the River Trail Yurt had a dead adult northern saw-whet owl in it along with lots of prey items. This owl showed no signs of trauma. I have no idea why it died in the box, and there were no eggs.
2. 1 box off the Albert Loop Trail Cut-off trail had at least 5 eggs in it and 3 young successfully fledged. It was occupied by a northern saw-whet owl.
3. 1 box, also off the Albert Loop Trail cut-off had 4 eggs laid in it, but after 1.5 months of incubation they never hatched. This nest was laid very late in the season (mid-June) and by the end of July the eggs hadn't hatched. I pulled out three of the eggs, cleaned them out and found no sign of embryos in them. Hence they were infertile. See attached photo of eggs in the nest box.
Hence I think we had really good success this year. At least 3 of 19 boxes were used by northern saw-whet owls in 2019 and 3 young were produced. I am cleaning out the boxes that were used this season with fresh material so they should be good to go. Hopefully 2020 will be a good year and more boxes will be used as owls find them.
The ERNC staff thank Andrew Fisher for running this volunteer program. We are indebted to him for taking on this project and wish him great success in 2020.