By Landbird Lead Biologist Dan Wenny
straight up. In addition to a regular procession of planes to the Oakland airport, the camera captured random gulls and swallows flying overhead. At that burrow the owl was evicted by a brush rabbit so I didn’t miss much in terms of owl activity.
We observed three pairs of owls this breeding season at the Warm Springs site, with one pair successfully rearing five chicks. In 2017 we had four pairs and two successful nests raising seven chicks overall. In order to make sure we can continue to collect data on their activity in between our visits, I realized that it is essential that I design a cow-resistant camera post.
First I attached a 1” x 4” pine board to the metal u-post to make it harder to bend the post. But using the straps to hold the camera to the new post clearly wasn’t sufficient – the cows rubbed on the cameras and broke most of the plastic strap loop on the backs of the cameras. For the next attempt I added a steel camera case which I bolted directly to the camera post. This version was better, but the cows could still move the post enough that the camera was no longer aiming towards the burrow resulting in a week’s worth of photos documenting the exciting pace of plant growth.
The latest design, and the one I’m still using, includes three 3’ guard posts cut from tree stakes. These guard posts don’t totally prevent the cows from rubbing on the camera, but they take the brunt of the assaults and delay the inevitable demise enough that I can usually straighten and repair things during the weekly battery change and card swap. The main issue that remains is that the ground is so hard that it is difficult to pound the guard posts in far enough to withstand 20 cows with a 7-day itch.
I’m sure some of our readers have ideas on how to design a better cow-proof camera post. If so, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information about our Burrowing Owl research, please visit our website.
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