Friday, March 9, 2012

Help! Need Your Birding Advice

Dear birding friends and nature enthusiasts,

This pic was meant to be a surprise for my readers but because of the situation today, I needed a photo.
As many of you know, I work at a high school near a wash and open desert grounds.  I have a great love for Owls and several every year nest around my work site.  A mother has been spotted flying around the grounds as she has been disturbed by high school students during the lunch time hours.  On my break today, I went to search for her after several students had shown me a picture of her flying.  I am worried as she is nesting on a school ledge just out of reach of students but close enough for them to throw rocks at her.  Normally I wouldn't have been worried, but several people have reported that there were some kids wanting to hurt the owl and I have deep feelings about protecting our wildlife.  I contacted the Arizona Sonora Desert museum for more direction.  I confirmed the site and see her nesting on two eggs.  My mind is occupied right now because the site is in danger.  Mother can fly away, but if the owlets hatch, they will not be able to escape if say a boy throws a rock.  The kids know where the nest is now and it has this birder on edge.  Any advice would be appreciated.....

15 comments:

  1. I can identify with your distress and the need for urgent action on securing this nesting pair. Not sure what you could do apart from informing all the kids of how much they need everyone's protection to survive and installing a system of willing guardians to oversee the site and warn off potential harmful elements. I hope you find a workable solution soon, else you might just have to pitch your tent and stay put until the coast is clear ;)

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    1. I know:) I have a tent in my closet somewhere. I've called the wildlife sanctuaries. Touching or tampering with the nest is a federal offense, otherwise there is not much I can do. It has been suggested that we label the area as off limits or not be disturbed but that might call for more attention.

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    2. I think the more attention you give her the better...camp out..call the newspaper..call the local birder group...ask for volunteers to guard her nest....post a bird cam near her...We had goose nesting in a parking lot...and the shoppers were so upset that she would be disturb..that the store roped off the area..and people volunteered to watch the nest....people are great...and the newspaper showed up to..and when the babies hatched...they,the police, stopped traffic so she could cross a 4 lane ....let us know..

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    3. Thanks Suz! I am looking into this now to see if we can get something organized after school is out today. That's great know that people come together to help out Mother Nature. In this area, I find there is resistance and a lack of concern for the wildlife. I don't know what is possible, but it needs to be brought to someone's attention.

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  2. I agree with Suz. Bring on the attention. It would be nice if the AV department (is there such a thing anymore) could put up a webcam. Bring it out in the open and make the school feel pride of ownership. Post it on a school blog and watch the babies hatch. Try to make this a teaching moment. Good luck! I love that you care as deeply as you do.

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    1. Another great idea! I just spoke with the biology teacher and apparently this is her 3rd year nesting in the same spot. There have been several owlets born from these nests so it might be okay. People have been notified. I really like the cam idea.

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  3. Bless you for doing all you can to protect those babies. Please keep us posted. Your photo is beautiful!

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    1. Thanks Jill, I'll everyone posted.

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  4. Oh dear Chris - I can just imagine the agonies you are going through.

    I would agree with previous comments though about the need for publicity and turning it into a positive educational experience. A webcam, if it could be installed without disturbing the owls, is a superb idea. Sadly, some kids may still to wish to harm the birds so perhaps a surveillance camera of the surrounding area might also be needed or even as suggested put the area out of bounds.

    I do so very much hope that all turns out well - please keep us all posted. A brilliant owl photo btw!

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    1. Now that I'm aware and have some history on the situation, I'll be monitoring the area daily...I'm thinking of ways of filming the area without disturbing the mother. I had a nice talk today on the phone with our resident expert in the biology department and he helped calm down some of that anxiety. It's funny....most people are good, but there are rotten apples in every bunch and it's those kids/people that we always have to look out for....no matter where I go, there are those who are willing to take advantage of a situation or harm others.....it's sad because it hardens my view on all people. When it comes to animals, I'm afraid I'd jump in front of a car if it meant saving a dog. Most people would laugh at that but it's the truth. The simple truth is that people can be careless about the daily things. I'm going to check into the cam....I love it.....but we also have thieves:( It's all tricky stuff.

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  5. I agree with the others. The students need to be educated. The High schoolers I know would want to protect her, and would stand up to any peers that thought otherwise. Make it a class project to study her :)

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  6. I guess moving the school is not an option.

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    1. :) If you only knew the controversy that went with it when it was being built! They built it on the endangered pygmy owl lands and for several years the construction wasn't allowed to happen. Today the school has to monitor the wash that the students cross everyday to make sure that the land is protected and not disturbed....I'm not sure how that's all working out BUT I will say that there is a lot of wildlife around the grounds...rattlesnakes, a gila monster, bats, bobcats...it never surprises me what shows up at our front doors. Just as long as they are protected. Most of our students are decent wonderful people....but like everywhere, there are always a few who would harm others.

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  7. Thank goodness the owl and her nest have someone like you watching over them!

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  8. I don't really have any advice, but it is a sad commentary on high school kids that you are worried they might disturbed the owl and owlets. That's too bad. I hope everything turned out okay.

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