Two of the fuzzy young owls now growing up at Scout Island.

Two of the fuzzy young owls now growing up at Scout Island.

Big bird action at Scout Island

Our resident birds have provided a lot of excitement over the summer.

Our resident birds have provided a lot of excitement over the summer.

Observers have watched both Long-Eared Owls (seven babies) and Ospreys raise chicks from fuzzy little wads to novice flyers.

Our nestcam recorded tree swallows building their nest, laying and hatching eggs, feeding babies (a lot!) until they grew so big that the nest box seemed ready to burst.  Once they found their wings, they never came back and that was the end of our spying.

We’re really grateful to BC Hydro for the Osprey platform they provided last year. They noticed some adult Ospreys checking out power poles across the channel, and that can be fatal if the birds fly into power lines.

Hydro workers installed orange fibreglass triangles atop poles on the RC Cotton site to deter the Ospreys from unsafe perches.

On the Scout Island side (beside the wheelchair-accessible Butterfly Trail) they then erected a very tall pole (typically six metres higher than any energized lines), topped by a four-feet-by-six-feet-by-1.5-inch yellow cedar platform sitting on seven-foot crossarms held up with compression braces. They even placed sticks on the platform to attract the birds’ attention.

It was too late for breeding last year, but some adult birds did investigate — a worthwhile investment by our public utility.

We were thrilled this spring to see three adults adding sticks to the nest and appearing to “flirt.”

By mid-May they had built a recognizable nest and housekeeping seemed to be underway. Summer staffer Kiera Dolighan committed to recording daily observations of their activity as her research project, and her data show that the nest and platform were successful.

On June 4 she noted: “Female continues moving and resettling into nest while looking down. Possible incubation?”  She first saw the chicks on July 5, a very hot day.

The female seemed to be shading them from the sun.  She saw two well-feathered chicks perched on the edge of the nest in mid-July.  By mid-August they were stretching out their wings and seeming to levitate on gusts of wind.

The parents would feed them a few bites of fish then take the rest to a nearby perch, perhaps trying to lure them into attempting flight.

What a moment that would be in the life of a fledgling! What a leap of faith to lift off from the nest for the first time, so high above the ground.

On Kiera’s last day of work, Aug 23, one chick was seen perched on a telephone pole. We’re glad she got to witness that before she had to leave for school.

We were sorry to say goodbye to Kiera and her fellow summer staffers, Laura Ulrich, Caitlyn Langford and Kacie Young.

They have returned to their universities now, and we wish them all the best as they pursue their science studies.

Most of Kiera’s observations were made through the viewing scope, set up on the roof of the Nature House.

You are welcome to go up there during open hours (typically 1-4 p.m. on weekends) and have a look for yourself.

 

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