Riverside Realtor Blog - Alma Dizon

Alma shares her experiences and observations as a Realtor in Riverside California.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The wind and the barn owl

The wind was very strong yesterday, about the worst we've had in a couple of years. Whenever this happens, I expect baby owls to start raining from the palm trees.

I have no idea why, but the local barn owls like to build their nests in the Mexican fan palms around us. They must like the view from up there, but these slender, graceful trees bend and bow in the winds, their fronds flying off. Nestlings don't have much of a chance. One year, three baby owls fell. One died immediately, another was so injured that it had to be put down, and the third was in good enough shape for the county to take it in. I couldn't get near the lives ones. They have wicked talons and beaks, and they're too scared to let anyone get near. There's not much their parents can do when the little ones can't fly.

This year, however, instead of a baby, I found a dead adult owl by the lemon tree in the middle of the afternoon. At first, I panicked, thinking that it might have eaten a rat that had been poisoned. I spent some time talking to our pest control and several vets' offices, considered paying for a necropsy, then read up on barn owls online. It turns out that they're quite short-lived in the wild, often dying during the first two years of life. So, in the end, we figured that it was more likely that the owl was asleep in a palm and got knocked out by the wind. He was probably too groggy and fell too fast to save himself. (I was once outside at night when a stray cat knocked a sleeping pigeon out of a tree. I scared the cat off, and the pigeon sat on the ground for a while, too befuddled to get up right away. He eventually managed to get back into the tree. Like us, their reaction time is affected by deep sleep!)

Toward dusk, I heard its mate calling, and I felt sorry for it. I've found a site that has instructions for building barn owl nests, and I'm going to talk to our handyman about trying to set one up. Maybe that way, we can keep them safer, and if they stick around, we'll be able to stop paying for the rat control. Then our owls can be secure, knowing that they're getting only organic rodents in our yard!

Here's the site I found with the owl nest plans:
owl nests
And here's the Press Enterprise article on yesterday's weather:
Press Enterprise article on windy weather

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