We are finishing up our research projects for this semester. One group is working on behavioral patterns of the Great Horned owl, while the other group is working on analyzing the bird survey.
We have been collecting data on the owl nest the past couple of weeks. The owl seemed to have two chicks three weeks ago, but now there is only one chick. This chick seems to be growing rapidly and looks really healthy.
One thing we have noticed is that when the female gets spooked from the workers, she has to fly a lot further to find coverage than she used to. During previous years, she could find a nice hiding spot about 30yds from the nest so that she could keep an eye on her chicks. She now has to travel about 150 yds from the nest to find a good hiding spot. We are not quite sure what this could mean for the chick’s ultimate survival.
Here are some of our latest project photos. The photo of me standing in the lake bed with the long white pole was taken when we were surveying the depth at one of the locations for our cribs. Then we carried them to the sites with the skid steer and set them.
Last Friday we started constructing our third type of shelter. It is made of recycled plastic and held together by welded rebar. It basically looks like three of the ugliest fake metal palm trees you have ever seen welded together, but I bet the fish will love it because of all the horizontal cover it will provide.
We were finally able to see at least two great horned chicks on 22 March 2013. They are probably a couple of weeks old , but because of the height of the nest, they are within our sight range as they look over the nest. We were able to get a couple of pictures. However, because for the cold and windy conditions, the female wrapped the chicks with her wings so we were not able to get a picture of them. You can get a sense of how windy it was in this video that we recorded.
This this part 1 of a series of posts that will document a specific student’s research project. B. Hinson, a student at MCC, is in the initial stages of building a lake at the Dale Earnhardt Leadership Campus at Oak Springs. He will be conducting aquatic ecological research. This research will include establishing several types of fish shelters in a newly constructed 23-acre lake and also building and monitoring wood duck boxes. The objective is to understand how to properly maintain a healthy and sustainable fish population. The following includes some of his initial work building the fish cribs:
So far Gene and I have put in about 30 hours gathering materials and trying to figure out the best design and location for our fish cribs. We decided to go with all natural building materials. There has been a lot of chainsaw work and stacking logs, so far I have one full size model that we are happy with. I plan to drill holes and put rebar through them to tie them together. I will then weld in caps and support to keep the structures sturdy enough for me to transport them to the lake bed.
Monday and Tuesday of this week, Gene and I will be gathering cedar poles to make stake beds for the second type of fish shelter I plan to build. I hope to get some more drilling and welding done on the cribs as well.
After some slight design modification, we stacked logs and drilled the corners to run rebar through the holes. I welded a stop on the bottom of each rebar. Once we built the cribs as tall as we wanted, I heated the metal with a torch while Gene bent the metal to secure the logs. Another Biologist (Kim Baker) kindly volunteered about 8 hours hard labor cutting, drilling, and welding. Once we finished the crib I was able to pick it up with our tractor and transport it to the lake basin. We are very satisfied with the cribs and the work we were able to get done this week. One crib down, 3 to go! Biology is way more labor intensive than I would have guessed!