Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cage Construction Done and Owls Are Here!

The construction of the owl cages is now complete! Actually, it has been complete for a few weeks. There are a few tiny details to finish out, like putting Astroturf on the feeding platforms and perch braces and adding some stumps on the floor of each cage. We just added a few shrubs in each cage a few days ago, so we'll see how they handle being in the shade in clay soil with little access to direct rain.

The huge excitement, however, is that the owls were shipped down to us this past Monday! The Raptor Education Group needed cage space for some Osprey, so it was time for the owls to move on. Trouble is, I wasn't ready for them yet! The security camera system for monitoring the owls still needed to be installed in the cages, we needed to have a public open house to view the cages, and we needed to organize a special event for all donors, volunteers, the media, the Friends of the Houston Nature Center board, and City Council members when the owls were released into the cages.

Erica Broberg, the falconer who takes care of Alice when I'm gone, agreed to house the owls temporarily for me. Whew!! This photo shows the owls just after they were released into their temporary home at Erica's.

In the meantime, we're having a public open house to view the owl cages tomorrow, September 17, from 1-4 PM. This is the only time we plan to allow viewing by the public since these are breeding owls, not education birds. They are not accustomed to humans, and we'd like to keep it that way. They will be raising young owls that will most likely be released to the wild, and it's important for those young owls to be scared of humans, which they'll learn from Mom and Dad.

We're working with Per Mar Security on the camera system for the cages. They're giving us a discount on the cameras (which no other company was willing to do!), but these are high-end cameras, and the cost for each camera/mike setup is just over $1,200. We need five of them. Plus a computer dedicated to run the system and a switch box. So the crunch has begun to hurry up and raise the necessary funds so this system can be in place before the owls move into their permanent home. So far $2,200 has been raised and more potential donors are being contacted every day. You can make a donation online with the donate button at the bottom of this page, and everyone who donates $100 or more will be invited to the special event where the owls are released into the cages.