Saving urban owls through the Owl Box Project

 

The McCallum family of Dainfern had some unexpected house guests this year when a family of spotted eagle owls decided to call the McCallum’s chimney home.

”We heard them last year, but didn’t actually see them,” explained Lee-Anne McCallum, who lives in the house with her husband David and children Alyssa and Keegan.

“This year we decided to install an owl box in the hope that they would come back.”

Company EcoSolutions was asked to install an owl box on the property in September. When their team installed it, they found a surprise – a breeding pair of spotted eagle owls had made their own home in the house’s chimney, and an egg had already been laid.

“My husband named the male Wilbur and I got to name the female, I called her Rose,” added McCallum.

EcoSolutions decided to go back to the home on 10 November in order to ring the hatched owlet, and the female owl if possible.

“We want to put a ring on the owls,” explained Sara Ochardson, a junior ecologist with EcoSolutions who is involved in the Owl Box Project. “The tagged owls are monitored by the University of Cape Town and gives researchers information about the species. Spotted eagle owls, along with barn owls, are the most common types that are found in the green belt of Gauteng.”

Orchardson, along with her colleagues, Reginald Mkansi and Hussein Moyo, gently removed the owls from their chimney nest so the creatures could ring a leg.

During the task, they found and tagged the female owl, as well as a fledgling owlet which the McCallum children named Lesley. The male owl was also seen nearby but was not close enough to be ringed.

Once the birds had been successfully ringed, they were returned to the roof and were placed in the already-installed owl box.

“We are so blessed that they’ve chosen our home to live in,” added Lee-Anne.

“I love seeing them in the evenings and mornings, and I so hope that they come back again next year!”

According to Orchardson, there are about 100 owl boxes in this area which provide a safe nesting site for owl species to reproduce in. The company also installs and maintains bat boxes and provide poison-free pest control solutions.

For more information about EcoSolutions and the Owl Box Project, visit their website www.ecosolutions.co.za

Have you found some incredible wildlife on your property? Share your photos and stories with us [email protected]

  AUTHOR
Robyn Kirk
Journalist

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