BLOG: Volunteers install barn owl boxes

On Monday your Delta Nats Bird Box Team (DNBBT), along with several staff with Metro Vancouver Parks (MVP), installed two more barn owl boxes, DNS No.’s 17 and 18, in selected spots in Boundary Bay Regional Park.

This follows last week’s installation of DNS Box 70 at Tsawwassen Springs Golf Course.

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It was a glorious sunny day, which started at the MV Office beside Cammidge House.

The MV Parks team included Robyn Worcester, Lynden Mager, Sam Cousins and Sam Thompson while the Nats team incuded Peter Ward, Syd Barber, Mike Bayliss and “occasional attendees” Jack and Stella MacDonald and me.

Prior to this morning, a number of meetings and discussions took place concerning the logistics and where the boxes were to be placed. Also, the DNBBT manufactured the “Cadillac” boxes, MVP purchased the two 6”x6”x14’ posts and cement, and SLB Syd dug the two holes.

Following introductions at the work shed, the group with all the parts and machinery drove to the first site near the park entrance at Boundary Bay Road.

At the site, the DNBB Team bolted the owl box to the post. Then was the exciting part where Lynden maneuvered the tractor with the post attached and, assisted by unprofessional rope handlers, guided the post into the hole. The post is really heavy. A very helpful addition to these installations was a “prop”, invented by Lynden to raise and support the post and box before the tractor went to work. The stabilizing ropes were new to our installations, but are much better from a worker safety perspective. Note helmets and masks on the conscientious workers.

Once the post was in place, and the box pointed in a pleasing direction to Robyn, and level to Peter’s strict demands, Sam J mixed the cement and poured it into the hole.

Hole number two was filled with water, so we added a few bricks to assist and stabilize the cement. You will note that the decks are not on the boxes. Peter will install the decks, and the “ladder assistance bar” next week when we know the posts are secure.

During installation of the first box, Jack and Stella arrived to add almost-useful supervision. Jack brought small “wired cameras” that can, and will, be easily installed in some of our BO boxes. These wire cameras have a connection for an i-phone so we can check the inside of the box without ladders or disturbance. Stella took a group photo; you can see it and other photos on Jack’s Flickr site at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jacksonmacd/.

At noon, following completion of the first installation, while others prepared for the second installation, Peter and I went for lunch at the Rose & Crown Pub. The soup (meat & veges) and sandwich (egg plus stuff) special, served by the always cheerful Leila, was delicious, and surprisingly we both had coffee (no beer, first time ever).

Work on the second installation, along the inland trail not far from the Pumphouse, had already begun when we got back shortly after 1 p.m. The sequence of events was the same for Box 18 as for 17. Clean-up began around 2 and everyone left soon thereafter.

It was a fun day, although I was only there for the photo ops. No one got hurt, and the conversation among the participants during the four-plus hours was amusing, inane, and occasionally intelligible. Seriously, it was a super job by a bunch of keen, dedicated environmentalists who all had a ball doing a small bit to help a species at risk have a nice new home. We have had 100 per cent success with use of our other boxes by barn owls; we hope these two have similar success.

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