GRAYS RIVER — The old gray barns keep crumbing down, giving the barn owls new challenges to finding nesting homes. Here in Grays River, another collapsed barn uprooted our mated pair of owls to forage for a new nesting home.
In the hopes of helping out the displaced couple, we built a Simmons barn owl nest box from online instructions as dutiful bird lovers would. It is not for the faint of heart to hoist a heavy wood box 20 feet up an extension ladder to attach to our garage. The theory goes that if you build it, they will come. But nothing happened, no owls, for three years. So like a kid finding an extra prize in his Cracker Jacks box, we were beyond delighted when Guinevere and Arthur showed up this spring.
It’s been a bit of a technical nightmare to make a Nighthawk camera convert to an internet picture then to a YouTube stream. We are not techno savvy people, just 30 plus hours later it worked. It could be better or worse but there it is. Just go to tinyurl.com/Guinevere-Owl or search for Guinevere Owl Live Stream on YouTube.
The literature says barn owls will lay five or six eggs. Guinevere, being exceptional Wahkiakum county stock, is above average having eight eggs all laid between March 23 and April 7. The eggs are supposed to hatch after 29 to 34 days incubation in the order they were laid — in other words at two to three-day intervals.
Guinevere is supposed to continue sitting on chicks until the eldest is about three weeks old, expecting her obliging mate Arthur to continue feeding her during this time. Usually, the owlets start flying at nine or 10 weeks and leave the nest for good at 11 or 12 weeks. Arthur is seen in the live stream coming in the evenings with snacks of voles, mice, rats, etc. Guinevere will munch down the meal and regurgitate the bits she can’t digest like bones and fur into a pellet about the size of a small dark egg. These pellets can be seen all around the inside of the nesting box making for a comfy bed for the new owlets to come.
Guinevere and Arthur have found a new home here, not as classy as a historic old barn but like an apartment over a parent’s garage, it’s home for the little family for now. Hopefully, they will continue to return in future years, maybe we will figure out camera technology by next year, great expectations abound.
This streaming camera can educate us in helping them survive here even if the barns are crumbling into the wet Grays River Valley. Have a look and enjoy the moments that are as fleeting as an owlets first flights into exploring the Willapa.