The burrows are finished!

We were feeding squirrels again and noticed that the burrows now had the characteristic mound beside their openings, along with the appropriate depth markings.  We could see the tubing leading to the "living room" we had installed beneath the large, open-bottom cages in which the squirrels were kept to encourage them to burrow in these locations.  Three of our members actually ran into the preserve and started doing victory dances.  Honestly, one could not imagine how much these holes mean to us.  It is the first thing we have finished in our great plan of action for an owl colony, and a sign that our plans can produce real results, however minor at the moment.

We quickly made plans for the next step, and now we will be assembling cages and planning for the capture of endangered owls now to inhabit these burrows.
Today we checked up on our squirrels on the "pie" area of the reserve staked out just for their cages and burrows.  The burrows are already mostly finished, and squirrels are readily using the tubing we attached as a living room in each cage.  We added a few more squirrels we caught and fed and watered the squirrels, noting the appetite and thirst of each cage in relation to the amount of squirrels on them.
We're totally exhausted after these months of continuous work, but there's no time to slow down.  Somehow, just the mention of another animal successfully rescued, the fixing of another piece of equipment, or the discovery of an optimal bait for the traps energizes us despite our weariness.  Just being out in the preserve is enough to transform me from tired to eager.  The beauty of nature never fails to awe me - the great expanses of yellow brush, the tall majestic mountains, the calls of beautiful birds across the hills.  The damaged preserve is already improving, though we've only cleared away a bit of flammable shrub and introduced a few squirrels.

We collected all squirrel cages today and counted up our amount of squirrels caught.  We successfully snagged over 200 squirrels!  Today we fitted them with radio collars and noted their relationships to one another and separated them into different cages.  We also dyed characteristic numbers onto their backs with special vegetable-based dyes to identify them and so we can match squirrels to cages.  We were careful to note their origins as well.

This is such an amazing opportunity, and I can hardly believe, even after all these months, that we are really accomplishing so much in our community.  It has truly changed our perception of naturalists and nature in general - it is far more delicate and intricate and wonderful than we'd previously thought.  Our need to protect it is growing day by day, and our determination and passion for the environment has increased dramatically.  I can only hope that the difference it makes on the burrowing owl population will be just as large, if not larger!