Recently I learned that an owl was nesting in the rafters at the tippy top of the 3-story office building I work in. I heard she’d had two babies with her, and at least one had fallen out…a kind-hearted soul took the baby owl to be cared for by wildlife rehabbers. I’m not sure this was the best thing for the baby owl – there are several things to take into consideration when coming across a baby bird/owl/any wildlife. This link will help you gain a better understanding, should you come across a baby bird and aren’t sure what you should do.
I’ve had a quiet peek at the owl about a dozen times now and haven’t seen any babies, so either the remaining baby has grown and is on it’s own now or is hidden back behind the mother owl.
The owl roosts during daylight hours, though she does wake briefly…when she does, mostly she seems like any other sleepy animal and cozies up and goes back to sleep quickly. I took some photos in the morning, thinking the light would be better since she’s on the West side of the building and her roost is in a dark spot. The morning light is softer against the white concrete of the wall just below her roost, so I hoped the contrast would be lessened and I could get better shots. But I went back in the afternoon and the light was actually better, so what you’ll see below were taken in the afternoon.
She stands right at the edge of the wall…in some of the photos below you can see the tips of her talons hanging over the edge. Her size is misleading in the photos because of perspective…I used a zoom lens that’s equivalent to 432mm, and I was standing at about a 30-degree angle below her – she appears to be at least a foot tall when viewing her with the naked eye. As best as we can tell, she looks to be a Barn Owl. More images of barn owls here.
This is shown in series. Click on photos for larger view. There is also a slideshow of just the photos at the bottom of the post.
I walked up quietly to take a peek, and saw that the owl’s head was turned around…I mean WAY around. Not quite 180 degrees, but close. I quickly got my camera out and she’d heard just enough of me to turn her head slightly forward at the point I took this photo:
I started taking video a moment after that photo was taken. Noise from the door slamming below her got her attention enough to wake up, lift her foot, and shift herself to go back to sleep. I didn’t know that owls sometimes sleep with a foot up, but I’ve seen her do this quite a bit:
She’s still working on getting comfy, and people are still coming and going through the door below her (they let the door slam behind them…I wish they would stop doing that):
In this vid she watches a person coming out of the door and then has a look at me, then settles back in to get comfy for sleep. She keeps her foot up while she sleeps after this, and also the following day:
Still sleepy and giving me some nice views:
Here she sort of “smacks her lips” (in mammalian terminology), shakes her head, and finally goes back to sleep:
Here’s an interesting link I came across, by a person who seeks out owl roosts in the Northeast.
I did a little bit of work with wildlife rehab when I lived in Tucson, and met my first owl there. It was a small owl – maybe 6-8 inches tall, and was sick. The main rehabber was trying to get it to eat, and she put on a very long, very thick glove and held a dead mouse in very long tongs. The owl simply stared at it…and then looked at me and started clicking it’s beak/tongue(?) and quickly stepping back and forth between one foot and the other. It was quite an eye-opener – such a small owl evoked enormous respect from me…the power of even a small raptor is something to behold.
Mostly I worked with baby birds, feeding and cleaning their cages, but I helped the rehabber move a couple of larger babies (‘youths’) to larger cages…or at least I tried. Even small birds are surprisingly strong! I also helped the rehabber re-bandage an injured leg on an adult bird – I had to hold the leg so tightly I was afraid I was hurting the bird, but the bird was so strong there was no other way to bandage it’s leg so it could heal.
Wildlife is nothing like domesticated animals! Well, other than they are non-human animals. The meaning of “respect” requires an entirely new level of understanding. Wildlife is awe-inspiring and humbling, and our good fortune to view it is truly sublime.