The new predator-resistant nest box is now in place. It has the same interior dimensions and appearance as the original box, but is drastically different on the outside. The front and roof are now covered by large sheets of Lexan (a clear, but very tough plastic) to deny fishers and other predators a foothold. The sheet of Lexan that covers the roof is painted (except for a round skylight) and mounted at a steep angle. The sheet that covers the front is unpainted, but features a leaf pattern to prevent the owls from flying into the clear surface. Aside from the doorway, which is surrounded by wood, there are no objects on either surface that can be gripped. Should the fisher manage to walk down the roof without sliding off, it would then be forced to release with two of its paws and attempt to reach in from the one-foot overhang to get to the door. Entering from the sides or bottom of the nest would require reaches that would exceed that of a fisher or raccoon, with nothing to grip. A fisher attempting to leap at the door from the front would be faced with a 23-foot jump from the nearest tree. The "attic" created by the steep roof also allows for better ventilation and provides more space for cameras.
While I cannot be sure that the owls will accept this strange new nest box, they will find that it looks just like home if they stick their heads into the doorway. The only negative for the owls is the absence of owl rails. This will force adults to land directly in the doorway (which they can do) and require the owlets to leap to the ground from the doorway. While there is a small risk that they would encounter a predator before climbing back up into a tree, several owlets have survived leaps to the ground and climbed safely into the trees in past years. Things have been extremely quiet for the last six weeks, with no hooting to indicate the presence of either Ward or June, but such an extended absence is not unusual for this time of the year. Only time will tell.
Back To: 2003 Updates