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Ants in owl house
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Gloria



Joined: 17 May 2009
Posts: 8
Location: Fort Pierce, FL

PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2009 10:37 am    Post subject: Ants in owl house Reply with quote

Our latest owl baby was abandoned by its mother and died, no doubt because the house, which was actually supposed to be a squirrel house but has been used by both species, became infested with carpenter ants. We took it down two days after she left nest and we stopped hearing baby sounds.
How do I keep this from happening in the future?
We've had half a dozen successful broods from the house in the back yard (including a family of four there now, fledged two weeks ago).
Both houses were mounted in oak trees.
I'm still having nightmares knowing I listened to that baby's death cries; of course, I thought he was just petitioning Mom for food. There was an unhatched egg, as well.
Heartbreaking!
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owlboy
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Joined: 19 Mar 2006
Posts: 1343
Location: Albany, NY, USA

PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2009 12:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry to hear about your owlet.

Ants, raccoons, snakes, bees, etc are a danger to an owl's eggs and owlets. For raccoons and snakes we put up flashing around the tree until the owlets branch. As soon as they branch, we remove the flashing so that the owlets can get back up the tree. For bees, we coat the inside of the owl box with paraffin wax. But, I don't have a good solution for ants. I would recommend that you clean out the box each year, and replace the nesting material.

I am presuming that these were Screech Owls?
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Gloria



Joined: 17 May 2009
Posts: 8
Location: Fort Pierce, FL

PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2009 12:31 am    Post subject: Ants in owl house Reply with quote

Thanks. If paraffin repels bees, I wonder if it would work on ants? I take it the wax has no effect on owls?
And yes, they are screech owls, but this year I put no nesting materials in the boxes. Previously, I've used orchid bark because I hoped the charcoal in the planting mix would help keep the boxes free of ants.
I'd attach photos but I don't know how.
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owlboy
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Joined: 19 Mar 2006
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Location: Albany, NY, USA

PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2009 12:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just researched some natural ways to repel ants. Here are couple of tips that might work:

1. Ants are repelled by talcum powder.
2. Ants are repelled by vinegar.
3. Ants are repelled by mint. You can put mint chewing gum sticks in the nest box just before nesting season. You can also plant mint plants near the base of the tree.
4. Ants are repelled by pepper.
5. Ants are repelled by a liquid mixture of Windex and liquid soap (50/50).
5. Ants are repelled by bay leaves.

All owls have a very poor ability to smell. GHOs are known to eat skunks.

Hope this helps.
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owlboy
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Location: Albany, NY, USA

PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2009 12:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The paraffin was will not affect owls. We use it in all of our owl boxes. It may be why we don't have a problem with ants. But, then again, you live in Florida which is the land of bugs.

I would still put in nesting material. But, I would probably lace it with one or more of my suggestions.

You can post your pictures on any of the common photo websites (www.webshots.com, photobucket, etc). Then you can link it in the text. Just click the Img button above, and then add the URL, and end it with a /Img. I can help you if you have a problem. We always love pictures of owls.
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owlboy
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Location: Albany, NY, USA

PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2009 12:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another good suggestion is salt. Seems ants like salt, and will carry it back to the nest. Once consumed, they then crave water. They continue to drink water until they die. If you can kill the queen, the ant colony will die.
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Gloria



Joined: 17 May 2009
Posts: 8
Location: Fort Pierce, FL

PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2009 1:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you so much! As soon as my husband gets home (he has to climb ladder) I'll have him spray the house with vinegar, then we'll add mint leaves and bay leaves.
What do you think about using orchid bark as nesting material?
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Gloria



Joined: 17 May 2009
Posts: 8
Location: Fort Pierce, FL

PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2009 1:33 am    Post subject: owl photos Reply with quote

For a few of many, check my website at http://web.me.com/markw119/Weinberg_website and click on Critters.
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owlboy
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Location: Albany, NY, USA

PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2009 1:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Checked out your critters. Nice pictures of the owls! Looks like you have a gray and red morph.

They probably will not come back this year. Their nesting attempt failed, so they probably will not nest again until next year. Some owls will attempt to nest again in the same year, but not that often.

I don't know that much about orchid bark, so I can't say. But, bark is the usual nesting material. Saw dust works poorly.
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Gloria



Joined: 17 May 2009
Posts: 8
Location: Fort Pierce, FL

PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2009 4:04 am    Post subject: ows, of course Reply with quote

The pair you saw on my website, Twila & Spaulding Grey, I first discovered in my yard, with babies, after a hurricane in 2004. I put up the owl house in December that year and they've raised babies in my yard every year since -- sometimes in the squirrel house out front, sometimes in back. Their lovely, sometimes mournful calls never cease to thrill me.
Their were some odd things about the (apparently very young) female whose baby died out front last week, which have led me to speculate:
1-- I never heard her call to a mate at midday or in the evening, as Twila always does. (I've seen him deliver lizards or other food and drop it into the house as a response.) She was entirely silent, even though she would sit for a couple of hours or more each day perched on the hole.
2-- I never saw or heard a mate nearby that owl, a reddish brown one I named Scarlet. (I'll add her to my website, since I can't figure out how to add photos here.)
3-- Perhaps her brood was the result of a "tryst" that left her with more responsibilities than she could handle alone?
Should I have checked the nest when she left it to perch in front of my kitchen window? I could hear the baby's cries at that time, but I knew something must be wrong for her to leave a just hatched owlet.
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owlboy
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PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2009 9:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Strange thing about Screech Owls. They sometimes practice polygamy. When it does occur, it is always 1 male with 2 females. It occurs during mating season. The first female lays eggs. Then the second female comes along and lays eggs in the same nest. The nest becomes crowded, so one of the females leave. The remaining female will raise the owlets from both females. We don't know if the female is lost for a while, and the male finds a new mate. Then the lost female then finds the male, or there are more females then males.

In your case, it is possible that you could have had two females nesting in two boxes very close by. That would be a new twist in the polygamy of screech owls.

I tried to link one of your photos, but your web site doesn't show the proper URL, so it will not link. If you tell me which photos you would like to post, I will upload them to my website and link them for you. Some sites don't like linking, so they try to prevent it.

Once she abandon the nest, it would be very hard to raise the owlet without the parents. They learn a lot about survival by observing their parents. Most owls that are brought in as owlets end up as captive owls for educational purposes.
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raptortrnr



Joined: 26 Sep 2007
Posts: 179

PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I asked this in another topic but got no reply.
What on earth do ants want with bird nests? ? Im so confused by this.
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Gloria



Joined: 17 May 2009
Posts: 8
Location: Fort Pierce, FL

PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 10:54 pm    Post subject: ants in owl house Reply with quote

Owlboy,
When I was out shopping the other day I bought cedar mulch, which is a natural flea repellant used to stuff dog beds.
If it repels fleas, I wonder if a thin layer in the bottom of the owl house would repel ants and mites. Forgot to mention that poor dead baby being devoured by ants was also working alive with tiny, barely visible white mites.
I freaked out when I saw them crawling up my arm!
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owlboy
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Location: Albany, NY, USA

PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 11:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ants going into the nest can be caused by a bad egg or a dead owlet. I don't see or hear about it too often, but it does happen.

I don't see a problem with Cedar Mulch. Just make sure that you clean out the nest each season, and add new mulch in the winter before they start nesting.
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raptortrnr



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PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2009 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do not recommend cedar, it can cause respiratory problems in animal that are sensitive and birds have very sensitive systems.
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