"I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.
For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free." ~Wendell Berry

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Recovery of E049

While doing the fall cleanup on the east side of the house today, something glinted at me from the rock garden. Earlier this summer, Bob had found an owl pellet just below our deck railing and had laid it on the rocks for me to take a look at later.  I had forgotten about it.  Until today.  Something shiny drew my attention back to it and my heart sank as I knelt to investigate.
I had been meaning to pull it apart, but with all the issues I had this summer, I couldn't bear to do it, fearing I would confirm what I dreaded most.  But nature has a funny way of exposing herself sometimes.  The rain did for me what I was unable to do and lying there in the owl poo was a little silver band, demanding my attention.

Federal Band # 2501-29649 recovered from the owl pellet
As I pulled the pellet apart, I noticed the tiny white bones in the mix.  I read the Federal Band number: 2501-29649.  This Second-Year (SY) male was born here at my site on June 13, 2013 in Troyer Gourd #35.  He was banded on 6/24/2013 at 21 days old.  He was resighted here on May 4, 2014 and was courting an SY Female in a Troyer vertical gourd on a different rack from the one in which he was born.  I have no further records where I spotted him this year, so I have no idea at what point he became a meal.

As I poked through the pieces, I knew it was inevitable that I would find the yellow band but its appearance still broke my heart.  His Missouri Band number was E049.
To think, this guy flew all the way to Brazil and back during the fall & winter of 2013-2014, only to arrive at my site and die as a meal to a GHO.  It makes me sad.

I am so grateful that I have always spent a lot of time out with my martins and could detect when something was wrong.  Even happier that I followed my instincts when I knew something was wrong.  Otherwise, the damage may have been a lot worse.  It doesn't make it any better for E049, but it did for the rest of my colony.
I am so grateful that my martins headed back to Brazil in mid-July as this year was exhausting and stressful.  I haven't been around my gourd racks yet, except to lower them for a storm.  Soon, when the weather cools, I'll be taking measurements so that I can start putting our planned design together for the owl protection that we will need for next year.
I know the owl has to eat too, but he really could go catch some of the annoying and very large moles we have here.  They would certainly make a heartier meal for him.  Have you seen our Missouri moles?  Perhaps I should put some bells on the moles that I catch so that they can keep my owl distracted next year.  Bad, old owl.