Jill and Garys story

Jill and Garys Story

We have been watching these Barn Owls in our back field for three and a half years now. First they were in a palm tree directly behind our house. They had two owlets fledge. Later, neighbors cut down the tree. Next, they moved to the palm tree to the south of our yard. That summer we got a really windy day and 5 babies fell out and died before we found them. Two survived and fledged. That is when we put up an owl box on a pole. I think they did not use it as they were already established in the tree. This last summer 2010, four babies fell and died. We knew there was one remaining baby in the nest because we could hear it in the tree, so every single night we went outside to watch the parents bring it food. One night, we saw Willow fly straight to the ground at dusk. We walked out into the field and there was the baby on the ground. At the time, we did not know that owls can climb back up into the tree. We also knew there was a neighborhood cat and coyotes that prowl the field, so Gary ran and got gloves and picked it up. We put him in our yard trying to figure out what to do! He was so ready to fly but was not able to gain the height needed. Meanwhile, Bear Grylls and Willow were watching from the neighbor’s roof next door. We decided to let them help the baby (at least he wasn't in the field with the coyotes). The next morning we woke up to find him at our back door! There was a half of a gopher in the yard, so we knew the parents fed him that night. We knew we couldn't just leave him there, so we put him in our garden shed and removed the back window. He slept on the cot in there all day! We positioned a camera in the window and watched the parents bring him food that night. The next night he climbed out the window and was miraculously in his own tree the next morning! He stayed in the nest about 3 days and then started taking practice flights from palm tree to palm tree. He would often fly too low and have to climb up the tree trunk to get high enough to do it again. We stood watching quietly in our yard, inwardly cheering him on as he got better and better! We almost cried when he mastered flying. He continued to beg loudly for food for another month and then he was gone! Now I cried.

Bear Grylls and Willow continued to live in that tree until about 2 months ago, when huge chunks of palm fronds fell out of the tree, exposing the nice perch they used for their nest. Now that it was uninhabitable, they moved to the palm tree on the north side of our house. That is when we built the owl box from the Hungry Owl Project's plans because it was apparent they weren't going to use the one we had on a pole (plus we wanted to double our chances!) Now while Bear Grylls would hang out in the palm tree, he could not miss the new box.... it was right in front of him. We could hear them mating in the tree so I was sure they had already chosen their new site and wouldn't move. But we got some heavy rains that soaked their palm tree and I think that beautiful new box nestled in the pine tree was looking pretty warm and cozy because one morning four days after Christmas we woke up to find the two of them snugly sleeping inside . One week later, they had their first egg!

Although extremely grateful that we had barn owls living on both sides of our house, I prayed for owls to come live in our box! So I give God the glory for these owls! They are His creatures anyways!

Psalm 150:6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

For some days now, after keeping track of the owlets inside and outside the box, we think there is a good possibility that we only have 6 owls in the box at this time. The feathered remains of what appeared to be an owlet were found in the field near the house, and it appeared to have been there for some time. If this indeed was one of our owlets, many things could have happened; it could have gotten sick, or it could have had problems since hatching. Please realize the uncertainty in all of this, as there is absolutely no way to know who it is, or how it happened. The size points to it being one of the younger ones, although many think they are still seeing Elf. Although this is hard, we have to trust nature and her ways. We like to know everything, but also must realize sometimes there are no easy answers, and sometimes no answers at all. Please keep this in perspective, and continue to be positive, both personally and in chat, and be thankful for all of our healthy owlets that we continue to enjoy and love, and that have been given every chance for survival in a difficult world for them today.


  1. Hugs to both of you, Jill & Gary, Nature is not always kind; however, in a clutch of this size, I feel we have been very fortunate!! We will rejoice in the joy we have felt watching them all grow and learn their skills and appreciate each other and our friendships throughout this experience. Thank you so much!! Hugs and ♥♥s, couleedam (Nora)

  2. I am so sorry and so close to your losing your kitty. Believe me, life is very precarious and we face that every day with our family and friends. The pain is there, but we go on. Thank you so much for always being there. Prayers and Blessings - you are good people doing good things for others. Love always, JanKW

  3. You said there is a "Nanny" bringing food to the box..... could it be a mama who has lost her only chick (one you found in field) and has adopted Willow's crew?? It will be very interesting to see how many of Willow's crew fledge.