OAKDENE residents Dennis and Melanie Preston were absolutely amazed when the owl box they’d had put onto the side of their home six years ago, was, in fact, housing an owl and her three babies.
“We kept hoping for an owl to come and take up residence in our owl box but for years all we got was doves and other birds,” said Dennis.
Two weeks ago Dennis decided it was time he cleaned out the owl box to free it of discarded feathers and whatever else had been left in there by the doves, so he and his gardener set out to do it. His gardener went up the ladder and nearly fell off when a fully grown female Spotted Eagle Owl flew out in fright.
“He got such a shock and quite honestly I was just as surprised as he was. We had absolutely no idea an owl was living in the box but the next biggest surprise was an owlet was also there.”
Dennis, a member of Eco Solutions Owl Box Project, contacted Sara Orchardson, who works for Eco Solutions and has a BSc (Hons) in Zoology. Sara arranged that she and other members would come out to place a ring on the owlet. The ringing process contributes to the national ringing database.
On September 13, Sara, Delina Chipape, Francois Combrinck and Hussein Moyo from Eco Solutions arrived at Dennis and Melanie’s home, all ready to ring the owlet.
“I told them we thought there were actually two owlets inside the box,” said Dennis.
When a ladder had been put up against the wall where the owl box was, the mother flew out to a nearby palm tree, watching anxiously what was taking place.
“There are three owlets,” called out Hussein to the excitement of the family and Eco Solutions staff below. Dennis and Melanie’s two grandchildren, Nicholas de Mattos (8) and his sister Zoe (6), were also there and excited to see the baby owls. The three owlets were carefully carried down the ladder in a basket and after being shown off and held, were then each ringed.
“This is fantastic news that there are three owlets,” added Sara.
“We really do encourage people to have an owl box, although as in this case, you have to be very patient. It can take years for an owl to actually move into the box. For those who do have a box, make sure it’s serviced once a year (make sure the box is secured to the wall or tree, clean it out and apply a coat of varnish).
If you are interested in having an owl box, please email Sara at [email protected]
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