Agent Maupin moved the baby owls from the destroyed hollow tree to a handmade next.
Submitted by M. Anthony Maupin, Conservation Agent, Holt County, Missouri
This time of year, every year, there are always surprises with baby critters showing up in the most peculiar places. A few years ago Conservation Agent Anthony Maupin responded to a call about nestling Barn Owls trapped in a grain bin. Luckily the farmer noticed the birds before emptying the grain bin and the owls were relocated and successfully reunited with the parents.
This past May Agent Maupin responded to a call in northern Holt County about baby Barred Owls that were nested in a hollow tree. The tree was wind-blown in Bill and Karma Metzgar’s yard and they wanted to know what could be done.
In a typical scenario, the birds are just lifted back up into the nesting tree but in this case the entire tree was destroyed in the storm. A call was made to Lakeside Nature Center in Kansas City about the two birds and if they could take them in for rehabilitation. Before doing so, the Nature Center suggested installing a wicker basket into a nearby tree, filling it with leaves and placing the young owls into the nest. Because owls have a territorial range of about one square mile or so, the adult owls should find their young quickly and continue caring for them.
Mrs. Metzgar graciously donated one of her laundry baskets to the cause! Holes were cut into the base of the basket to allow for drainage and then the new nest was attached to the tree. In this case, adult Barred Owls were observed in the area, tending to the young very soon after the nest relocation. During a two week time period after the nest relocation, adult birds and the youngster were observed sitting in different positions in the new tree. Once old enough, the young owls become “limb jumpers” and will move around the tree, jumping from limb to limb. Several times Mr. Metzgar found himself owl-sitting as the limb jumpers fell out of the tree from time to time; they were just repositioned into the nest.
By the first week of June, all birds had moved on and no longer observed in the nearby trees or on the ground. With a few resources, Agent Maupin and the Metzgars were able to get the birds back to safety which allowed for the natural growth of wildlife to occur.