Friday, July 4, 2014

hoo... hoo..... is sitting on my bird perch

     Every year when I give grafting schools, I stress the need to attach a "bird perch" on the tree to protect the scion from birds landing-on and breaking-over the newly attached graft. Common song birds that like to perch on new grafts include; red-winged black birds, meadowlarks, and sparrows, bluebirds and starlings.  I never expected that an owl would perch on one of my trees.
    About a month ago, my neighbor stopped to tell me he had seen an owl perched on the bamboo stake I had attached to a tree I had top-worked. He was amazed that my bird perch was strong enough to hold such a large bird.  I knew a pair of Barred owls were nesting on my farm because I had recognized their distinctive call (sounds like--"Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all") earlier this spring. Even though I heard them calling, I never got a good look at them until this week.
    The other evening, I was finally able to photograph one of our resident Barred Owls. The owl was perched on a steel fence post that holds one of my tree cages in place around a seedling pecan tree (photo above). From the owl's perspective, this was the perfect spot to hunt for mice and voles that live in the turf between my young trees. Barred owls can grow to 25 inches tall with a wing span of 3.5 feet. Barred owls will also dine on squirrels, so I hope this pair of owls stays around for many years to come.