Month: January 2011

Overdue Update

Site 3

Since my last update from Site 3. was in Early October.
Through-out the fall till now, the female (most likely) had been switching up from the pole box to the SQR type box. Earlier in the fall spending most of the in the pole box. Then what seemed to be an even split. Now, it seems may be more in the SQR type box. The male seems to still be elusive. At least both boxes have not been occupied at the same time.

(the pole box photo was from Sept.)

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Owls Galore

Site 8,

There are at least 3 owls using the box at this site and fairly likely four. (Which would make sense if there were 2 pair with overlapping territories). Another Superb composite!

From Site 8 owner:

I’ve seen owl(s) 7 days this month … and have taken photos on 4 days! owl pic of 1/4 is obviously the red-morph. owl pics of 1/11 & 1/15 show a darker grey or brown individual, probably the most “regular” visitor to this box. the most recent photo on 1/19 is very pale (almost white) with subtle markings to define the facial disks & “beard”. previously seen on 11/27/2010.

From my perspective, the 1/11 owl has more definitive/bolder white ‘eyebrows’ and the black outlines seem bolder, compared to the 1/15 owl, BUT this could be a function of lighting. Anyway, I have always had the subjective bias that red phased were more attractive, but that pale gray phased is striking!
Thanks again for the photos.

Update: pm 1/23/11

I agree that there could be four different individuals, for the very reason you cite: … the “more definitive/bolder white ‘eyebrows’ and the black outlines seem bolder, compared to the 1/15 owl” I have been trying to confirm that the difference isn’t simply an artifact of the lighting. So far, I’ve only noticed this “individual” in the dim light of dawn & dusk and it only occasionally shows itself on overcast days. 1/11 was a rare sighting during daylight hours with sufficient light to take photos. It is difficult to keep track of the different owls without a photo record to refer to. I have made notes on the calendar of ” Owl – light”, “Owl – red” and “Owl-dark” to try and differentiate them but, because of the variability of the lighting, I’m unsure of the accuracy of these attributions. IN the meantime, I’ve got the scope & camera at the ready for future photo opportunities.

MIA???

Site 1

The gray phase female has not been seen here since January 16, 2011.
The absence in and of itself is only slightly disconcerting, since she hasn’t been away from the nest box more than 2 days in a row, but not unheard of with other screech owls. But my suspicion was raised the next day, January 17, 2011.
The red phased male was in the box. I was there to watch fly out. It started calling, first a mid volume monotone ‘bounce’ song. That got progressively louder. He called at least a a half dozen times. I have watched lots of flyouts, and they are normally silent. Sometimes there is a barely audible ‘winny’ or ‘bounce’. Afterward I did bit of internet searching and found an incredibly relevant paper

THE EFFECT OF MATE REMOVAL ON THE VOCAL BEHAVIOR
AND MOVEMENT PATTERNS OF MALE AND FEMALE
EASTERN SCREECH-OWLS’

There is a chance that she has just found better hunting somewhere else with a suitable roost. But there are lots of dangers facing screech owls…and I already mentioned a larger ‘eared’ type owl seen a few weeks ago on site…
I guess we will wait and see.

“There was a Mighty Duel”

Site 1

Ahh, the Princess Bride..(when I saw these tracks my mind flashed to this scene.)

PRINCE HUMPERDINCK

There was a mighty duel — it ranged all over. They were both masters.

COUNT RUGEN

Who won? How did it end?

That however, I cannot tell…it was unclear whether the rodent was apprehended or not. I am thinking a hawk, but there was a report of a large ‘eared’ type owl that was seen a few weeks ago on site, which leaves long-eared or great-horned. The bird print was too large to be a screech owl. Mmm the plot thickens. (this was before the Jan 2011, blizzard ) If anyone can identify based on the tail print, and wing streaks in snow let me know!

Second Owl Confirmed

Site 8

at least one other owl has been seen here, It helps that it was a red phased. There is still a possibility there was a third owl earlier in the year (october). The owner of site 8, composed this helpful composite photograph. Here is the first hand account. (Great job on the photo BTW)

Since Oct. 17th our owl box has been in use by at least two Screech owls. The first is probably the same grey-morph owl that stayed briefly in April (both photos on left) and returned this fall. The red morph owl (in the bottom right) arrived on the scene in mid December and has been seen regularly through today. I believe that the owl that arrived in mid October (upper right) was a third distinct individual. I base that belief on observations made over the month or so it was around. Unfortunately, it was harder to photograph because it was rarely visible during the full daylight hours – hence harder to photograph in sufficient light.

The Good the Bad and the Ugly

Site 4

The GOOD news, the box was not being used by any screech owls.
The BAD news, well thats obvious, time to replace and relocate
The UGLY, well the box was one of my ‘squirrel resistant’ prototypes, trying to get dimensions, design and materials figured out. It also used aluminum flashing instead of vinyl. As such it was an UGLY box.

FYI, the tree came down in the recent Dec. 2010 blizzard.