Pictoral ‘Ode’ to “the Giving Tree”

Site 1

On site 1 there was a large dead pitch pine on a point that seemed to recruit birds, especially raptors,herons and egrets, although last year flickers at least attempted to nest in the trunk.  I affectionately referred to it as “the giving tree.” Well here in northeast Massachusetts we are in the mist of another storm, but the last storm blew the decaying tree completely over so it will no longer attract birds…All good things….So here are some photos I have gotten of the variety of birds over the years that have perched on the tree. Merlins especially used the tree, so added a few more pics of them.  It was an amazing tree!

great blue heron

red-tailed hawk
P1020031 (1)
great egret
P1040669 (1)
imm. black-crowned night heron
peregrine falcon
american kestrel
next 3. merlin
coopers hawk
Imm. bald eagle
P1150498 (1)


It Only Took 8.5 Years

Site 6

WOW! Nice to have this site active with at least one screech owl. According to my (b)log book this box went up Sept 2009. In fact it is one of the early prototypes that reclaimed and integrated red cedar on the front panel from a normal style box into the SQR type box.   A second box was added in the fall 2010 (slot).  When I first put these up I though it was fairly ideal habitat and that it wouldn’t take long. BUT…. there has been Great Horned Owls near by since the boxes went up and probably played a roll in the absence of Screech Owls at this site.  In fact I heard 2 Great Horned Owls (I think they were competing males, not a male female duet) with in a 1/4 mile of this site earlier in the winter.  Hopefully this is far enough away for a pair of Screech Owls to set up a territory.  Mean while, a screech owl was heard here in the early fall 2017, but never seen in a box until a few days ago. On Feb 26th 2018,  I thought I saw something in the entrance, but there wasn’t enough light to really confirm it, and I didn’t have a camera either.  I told the owners to keep an eye out but after a few days of nothing I was beginning to think I was just seeing or imagining things.  Then today 3/3/2018 my wife went by and confirmed there was an owl in the box.  I was only able to get the documentation photo at dusk in low light, as the owl seems very skittish.  I don’t fully trust the colors in low light photos but it does appear to be red phase.  Hopefully a better picture to come, as this was low shutter speed, hand held through a bay window.


Been a While

Site 1

It has been very quiet at this site, owl wise this season.  The resident screech owls disappeared back in 2015. Unfortunately, it seems, no new screech owls have found this prime real-estate yet. Sometimes Barred or Great Horned owls spend some time in some woodlots near by in the winter. This year nada. Well until just recently, to save being completely owl-skunked a snowy owl showed up…well quite a distance away but no doubt an owl!  This year has been very good for snowy owls, not quite up to the record breaking 2013-2014 snowy year but close.  So just a distant docushot snowy owl pic.

P1180949 (1)

Spreading the Resistance: TX again.

In Texas it seems like screech owls are quite abundant.  Got a nice letter last May, so it took me awhile to give it the attention it deserved. Anyway here is the note plus an awesome photo…(photo courtesy and copyright M. Simon, used with permission)

I purchased one of your owl houses for the 2016 season. We had 2 babies then, this year we had FIVE! The slot wasn’t big enough to show all of them, but another is back there. The babies only show up for a few days and then are gone. We enjoy watching them. And all have survived so far.txowl

Thank you very much for the picture!!!


Spreading the Resistance:the Kestrel Kind

Thrilled to say that an SQR box (circle entrance) has been successfully used and nested in by American Kestrels! They fledged 3 young this year. It all started back in 2013 someone backed out of a box order, I offered up the box to Phil Brown our Essex County Kestrel Trail operator (and of https://nebirdsplus.com ) he happily found a perfect spot for the box to integrate it into his project and 4 years later….A Kestrel nest! Kestrels are meadow/grassland birds, as such they have been declining in Massachusetts (and new england) so this project and its recent successes are very encouraging! Both of photos courtesy of Phil (used with permission) you can see his full documentation (scroll up or down for different years): Kestrel Success and Banding and Kestrel Project Background.

the SQR box in a tree with banding crew


Stuck around

Site 3.

The early screech owl visitor to Site 3, has stuck around and has been an almost daily resident in the box since July 28th 2017. That was the earliest box occupancy I have ever recorded, or even heard of. Here is a photo that I got today, It ‘seems’ to be small so I would not be surprised if this is a male owl. Hopefully, he/she will find a mate and this will be confirmed or refuted.


Same Pair?

Site 9.

From the owner:

Hi Everyone
Owl update! An owl visits now and then but visited again last night (10/31)
owl from the outside that has been her almost everyday! (11/8)
Owl fever!! Both were in the box briefly last evening!(11/16)

To me, this would seem to be the same all (both) gray phase pair from last year.Thanks for the updates!!!!


Site 9 story and 2017 recap

After taking a bit of a break from owl-land, I think I am ready for a new owling season, but before the new season is too far advanced here is some of last years loose ends tied up.

Here is the Run Down from the site 9 owner:

Here is the run down

10/31 Gray/Brown morph female was in the box for until 11/28/16 when the camera fell down and I had to retrieve it. When we opened the box, there was an owl there so we were quiet and closed the box and left them alone.

December 29, 2016 we had a gray male visits the box at night as well as a red female who moves in on January 16, 2017. We are able to record the activities at night with our owl cam that has an SD card so we can replay the events from the evening. All is well until the female stopped coming to the box. The male came every night over and over calling for the red female but she did not return ( something must have happened to her).  The male continues to call until 3/26/2017 when a gray female appears in our box in the morning. We had a bad storm that night and a lot of trees came down. We now have 2 gray( brown morphs) phase owls.

 On 4/8/2017 the female laid her first egg today and then every 2 days laid an egg for a total of 4 eggs.

 5/6/2017 the first egg hatched at 28 days.  5/17 the 2nd egg came, 5/8/17 the 3rd egg- but the 3rd owlet died on 5/11/17 then a 4th owlet was born on 5/12/17.

 All 3 babies were up in the slot on 6/7/17the first owlet fledged into the tree, 2nd owlet fledged on 6/8/17 and the little one ,  6/12/17 number 4 owlet  ( much smaller than its siblings) fledged at 8:55 pm

 It was an exciting owl season and these owls were amazing parents and so dedicated to their owlets. In fact when Blue Jays and Crows tried to get the owls, daddy came into the box with the whole family to lay flat and stay small to protect his family.

and the 2017 nesting summary:

It was a decent year, site 5 (maryland) site 8, and site 9 had successful nesting. Site 3 had activity into the winter but something happened to the owl that was using the box so there was no nesting attempt.

Site 1
No Nesting this year, no screech owls present at all for the first time since box has been up. Both a Barred owl and Great Horned Owl appeared near by during the winter.

Site 2
No screech owls…still(recent) calling of barred owls through out year.

Site 3
Screech Owls: Red phase was present october-january but disappeared before nesting season…. no nesting this year.

Site 4


Site 5
Maryland successful nesting but details lacking
Screech Owls,
Male= ?
Female=red phased
First Egg ???
# of Eggs…………. ??
First Hatch ???
# Hatched ………… at least 2
Fledged ……………. at least 2

Site 6
No screech owls, great horned owl(s) still heard occ.

Site 7

Site 8
Screech Owls, nesting occurred,
Male= Gray phased (browner)
Female=Gray phased
First Egg …………?
# of Eggs…………?
First Hatch…………?
# Hatched …………at least 3
Fledged ……………. 3 (almost certain)

Site 9
site 9 relocated back in 2014, Some owl turnover through the years, but ended up with successful nesting.
Male= gray phased
Female= gray phased
First Egg:…4/8/17
# of Eggs……………. 4
First Hatch: ….5/6/17
# Hatched…………….4
Fledged ……………….3

2017 Totals:
screech owl eggs ……7 + (massachusetts) + Maryland
screech owl fledged…..6 (massachusetts)+ Maryland.


Early Visitor

Site 3

Well this is a surprize….I haven’t even finished all the reports from last season…But now Site 3 has had an unexpected owl visitor the past 2 days. Mostly screech owls return to hollows(boxes) in October (in the Northeast) as the leaves and temperature start to drop. Previously the earliest owl visitor was August 13 in 2011. So this beats that early visit by 2 weeks!

Anyway, as a wrap up from last year, this site had an owl very consistantly through January, but then the owl ‘stopped coming.’  So this most likely is a new owl trying to claim prime real estate.  Low light picture has a bit of blur from a slow shutter speed/hand shake.   Hopefully better ones to come.


As the Winter Turns

Site 9

Sorry for being negligent on this site, but there has been quite a bit of drama here. So I will try to catch everyone up to this seasons story here. All quotes are from the owner.

Back on November 4th 2016.

Hi Everyone

This owl was regular through november, unfortunately in early Dec. 2016 a bit of a disturbance:

Hi ,
We had a bit of drama here as the camera was hanging down in the box on Monday somehow was knocked off the bracket. I climbed up and tried to use a mirror to see if the owl could be in there but I couldn’t see anything! So I unplugged the camera and I tried to Unscrew the bracket but I could get leverage so I carefully opened the front and then I realized the owl was sleeping in the front corner. I quickly and quietly closed the front and we left until we watched her fly out at night and then put a new bracket up and extended the threads on the screws so it would fall down again. She hasn’t been back since – she does miss 4 or 5 days here and there but I am worried.

It wasn’t until January, that another different owl returned, first seen at during the night visiting via a box camera:

We have a male red owl that came to the box at 2:20 am and stayed! I played the videos of the owl songs I have last night for 20 minutes! Maybe it worked ! It is a brilliant red male and spectacular looking! I was able to get a couple of pictures from outside too but I am no sure of the quality because I didn’t want to take a chance to scare him away

Happy MLK Day


Then on Jan 30th.

Looks like the gray owl is back and maybe they will mate! We were happy just having one red owl in the box! Now there is a lot of activity tonight! Exciting times are here!

But by Feb. 28.

Hi Everyone
Here is the latest update on the owls. It appears that something must have
happened to the red female . The gray male comes every evening and calls for
its mate (or someone new). The gray owl comes every night and scratches up
the nesting material and then calls for about a 1/2 hour. I thought I heard
an owl answer but mostly I hear no response. We are hoping that someone else
will come and join the poor little lonely gray male. Mating season is just
beginning so maybe he can lure another female in the box. He is adorable
and covers himself with shavings.

Which brings us to the current status:

An owl came to the box last night and is in there this morning!  There has been a lot of night time activity in the box with a gray male visiting and calling for hours. We also hear so many owls vocalizing all around our property! I am going to review the SD card as it is full of a visits from last night and will update everyone. We are hoping the sad male found someone new!


Phew, happy to get caught up here–thank you for all the updates, and staying tuned!