Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Rusty and Iris have been living in their spacious home here in Houston, MN for nearly a year now. We've done several minor remodeling jobs to help Iris feel more comfortable, but today was the day for a major remodel.

Roger Meyer, Laurel Oien, and Hein Bloem spent the whoooooole day working on it today. First they took down the plywood panels, and I removed the curtains. Then they cut wooden slats to size and put them up in place of the panels, spaced two inches apart instead of one inch apart like the other slats. This would allow Rusty and Iris to have more of a view, but still hopefully keep them from thinking they want to try to fly outside.

Since they really haven't hung on the chain link on the north wall, we just did slats three feet down from the ceiling. The south wall is the one that gave the owls fits, so the slats there went from ceiling to six to nine feet down, depending on the location.

The side branch perch was flipped over to give them a fresh perching surface, and now it curves out in front of their new slatted view. (It used to curve toward the nest.) I think they're really going to like it.

The nest got a major rework too. It seemed tooooo spacious for them, so the front half was covered with plywood and Astroturf and will serve as a "landing and delivery" platform. The back half is still a nest, but there is now a side and roof over it to give more of a "cavity" feeling I hope Iris will like.

The release training cage got a mouse-proof barrier installed on the inside, all the way around. This will keep the mice IN the cage when the young owls are learning to hunt live prey. That cage will also get a huge dose of new slats, and eventually a couple of hide boxes, a perch where they can sit in the rain, the infrared illuminators, and cameras.

While Rusty and Iris were in the release training cage when we worked on their quarters, I used the opportunity to do a good hose-down of all their perches. Lots of poop came off the perches and walls, so that was excellent. And I fished out all kinds of gopher parts in every stage of decomposition from fresh to slimy to mummified to skeletonized. And now Iris is wondering where the heck all of the gophers she cached in the nest are....

I plan to do some camera and infrared illuminator adjustments also, so stay tuned!


  1. Hi Karla - My daughter and I have just been out into the dark woods, attracted by two very bird calls. One is a distinct whistle and the other is a two note answer - or the other way around. Definitely talking to each other. Pretty sure they are owls but didn't sound exactly like begging GHO owlets we have heard before. Any suggestions? Great work on you enclosure.Thanks. Sara

  2. Just went out again and we could distinguish 3 birds doing the GHO "nocturnal shriek" on the Owl Pages. Occasionally another bird whistled. I think they are our resident GHO's who must have raised this family in a slightly different area and are still feeding them. Sara P.S. Hope you don't mind being my go-to GHO expert.

  3. I'm glad to hear you have babies again, even if they are farther away!!

  4. 11:39 pm EST - Both Rusty and Iris are sitting by the nest looking quite content. Unless the sound is off, she isn't screaming at him. Maybe they are staking their claim. Sara P.S. I finally found one of the babies. Very exciting.