PROJECT TAWNY OWLS
Tawny owls breed early in the year, at times even as early as February. Accordingly, the nest boxes had to be built and hung up as quickly as possible. Since I injured my knee shortly before the Christmas holidays and winter sports were therefore not possible, I had enough time to devote to my planned Matura thesis.
60 wooden boards, 170 screws, 42 nails, 10 tar roof covers, 20 hinges, 10 door latches, 20 suspension eyelets, a bucket of oil and two days of work later, the nesting boxes were assembled and ready to hang.
Back at home, I selected suitable trees and hung the finished boxes up into the tress with the help of two farmers.
Until mid-March I had to wait and "listen". The call of the males and occasionally the cries of the females could be heard almost daily, both early in the morning and late in the evening and at night. An accurate "diary" helped me to catalogue the calls.
From the 12 of March onwards, the tawny owls were heard significantly less often. A clear sign that the first females had started laying eggs and breeding. Therefore, it was now time to check the nesting boxes.
I examined all ten nest boxes, but unfortunately in vain. Not a single box was occupied - neither by the tawny owl nor by any other creature.
There could be many different reasons for this:
The territory of the pair breeding nearby is larger than expected. Accordingly, up to 7 nesting boxes may be hanging in their territory.
The time from the moment of hanging up the nesting boxes to the breeding was too short.
The location of the nesting boxes was/is unfavourable.
After consulting the teacher responsible for my Matura thesis, I concluded with a heavy heart against the project "A second territory for the tawny owl". After some weeks of research, I decided to try my luck with the black grouse. From February to May I went to the Grisons for several weeks. I got up at 4 a.m. to look for black grouse lekking sites and, of course, to photograph the birds. With the data collected, I want to carry out a location study, focusing on three main points:
How many males are courting per lekking site
How long are the courting?
Is there a correlation with any disturbances?
Of course, I will continue to observe the nesting boxes and hope that a pair will nest in the coming years. If so, I will keep you informed.
All sponsors for the purchase of calendars and postcards
Naturschutzverein Egg for financing the nesting boxes
Laura Hertel for the interview in the Zürcher Oberländer
Reto Cahenzli for organising and cutting the material
My mother for helping with the construction and general support in all areas
Jürg Weber & Roger Porrenga for a whole day out in the forest to hang up the nesting boxes
My brother for the time-lapse video ;-)