PORT OF STOCKTON
OWL NEST PROGRAM
- Protect our levees
- Enhance barn owl population
- Natural rodent control in order to reduce use of pesticides
- Launched in summer 2006
- 20 nest boxes
- Highly effective, cost efficient, and environmentally friendly
They’re back! The first year with the owl cams was an amazing success and the Port is excited to announce that they are back and better than ever. During the summer the cameras were upgraded and hard-wired resulting in much-improved reliability and picture quality. We also added exterior cameras to allow you to see what happens outside of the boxes. While the exterior views may not be too exciting at the moment we expect that as the breeding season progresses, outside activity (hunting, test flights, etc.)will increase and the cameras will provide even more fascinating insights into the world of the barn owls.
The Port of Stockton is pleased to report that during the past week all chicks in both the Fyffe Ave and Port of Stockton Expressway nest boxes successfully fledged and departed. Both sets of parents kept their chicks well fed and healthy throughout infancy; assuring they all were in fine shape when they finally could fly. All told we believe that the two boxes produced 13 owls, a success by any measure! Soon we will be shutting down the camera feeds to perform maintenance and prepare for the next season. We expect to have the cameras back online sometime in November/December and look forward another exciting breeding season.
As many of you have likely noticed the nest boxes are becoming less crowded. The owls (no longer owlets) are very close to fledging and are spending more and more time outside of the boxes, learning to fly and hunt for themselves. We at the Port are feeling like proud parents as they start to venture out. We expect that they will leave the boxes permanently in the coming days/weeks to begin life on their own, possibly inhabiting other nest boxes at the Port and continuing the cycle of life. Check out the Port’s Facebook page for some really cool pictures of the young owls as they start to explore outside.
We are happy to report that the owlets in the Fyffe box have been doing quite well. In fact that we were somewhat surprised to see seven owlets in an image captured on 4/21/14. This is a slightly larger than average brood size and to have 100% of them hatch and survive to this point is exceptional. There’s been some question about whether or not they were being adequately fed and they have become more active since the Port started supplementing their diet. We have seen recent evidence that an adult has visited the box in form of fresh whitewash though we have no idea of the frequency. This week the Port (in conjunction with UOP) will be placing an infrared motion sensing camera near the box which will record all visits by mom or dad. We look forward to sharing the results with you. It is great to know there are so many of you out there who have embraced this program and shared your joy or concern with us. We are thrilled to have this opportunity and we are learning how we can improve this program for years to come. The first thing we plan to do is upgrade the cameras to provide better streaming! Coming soon – “Flight Lessons” as our young owls learn to take to the sky. It’s going to be exciting to watch.
We continue to monitor the situation at the Fyffe nest box and wanted to provide an update for those concerned about the owlets. One thing to be aware of is the age of the owlets relative to those in the Expressway box. The Fyffe owlets are slightly older and have started to molt and grow their adult feathers which explains their somewhat scraggly appearance compared to the fluffy white owlets in the Expressway box. Furthermore, the Fyffe box is overhung by trees and the additional moisture created by the trees dripping during storm events has partially saturated the floor at the back of the box. The box is also heavily shaded so it has not dried out as fast as we would like and we think the damp conditions inside the box is also contributing to their appearance.
At this point we don’t know the frequency of feeding at the Fyffe box but the Port has solicited the advice of independent biologists and staff at the Hungry Owl Project. Based on their input the Port has started supplementing the owlets diet with mice that Port staff delivers to the box. In the next couple of weeks the owlets should fledge and periodically leave the box at which point they should start to feed themselves. Until then we will continue to watch closely and supplement their diet. Given the intermittent nature of the video stream it is difficult to determine the frequency of feeding by the adults. This is where you can help. If you observe any of the owlets in the Fyffe box feeding at night please do us a favor and post a comment on the Port’s Facebook page.
- Refresh the page if the feed times out or become non-responsive.
- View in the evening or at night. Barn owls are strictly nocturnal and the most interesting stuff happens at night.
- For the best viewing experience we recommend that you use the most updated version of your browser.
AboutIn 2013 the Port of Stockton installed video cameras in two of the Barn owl nest boxes located at the Port’s West Complex. Exterior cameras were added in 2014 to allow us to see what happens on the outside. The cameras are equipped with infrared vision to allow for night viewing when the owls are most active. The video is streamed live and we hope you enjoy following along as our owls continue their life cycle in the relative safety and comfort of the nest boxes.
Cool Facts about Barn Owls
- Barn Owls eat mainly small mammals like voles, shrews and mice. Prey is sometimes swallowed whole and indigestible parts are then regurgitated (coughed up) in the form of an owl pellet.
- Barn Owls do not hoot - they screech.
- The scientific name for Barn Owl is Tyto alba which means "white owl"
- Barn Owls have remarkably long legs, toes and talons enabling them to catch prey hidden at the base of deep vegetation.
- When viewed from above Barn Owls are quite well camouflaged, as the rough grassland over which they usually hunt is predominantly light brown for most of the year. When viewed from below their white under sides are hard to see against the light of the sky.
- Barn Owls hunt at night, and although they have very good eyesight, they rely mostly on their sense of hearing. Researchers found that in total blackness Barn Owls are still able to find the smallest of prey because of their excellent hearing.
- Owl ears are located one higher than the other, which helps them to pinpoint tiny sounds.
- During flight, the left ear captures sounds below while the right ear focuses on sounds from above.
- The feathers on the edge of the Barn Owls' face create a disc, which works to trap and focus sound, rather like our outer ears.