Month: December 2012

Hanging Around

Site 1

The barred owl looks to be setting up for the winter. This is the 2nd time I have seen it since november. It tends to roost about 1/4 mile away from the screech owl box, which isn’t much for birds. Barred’s eat screech owls so its ‘worrisome’ and fun having it in the same general area. The screech owls nested just fine in 2010/2011 when a (the same?) barred owl was present in the same local.

shows how well they can blend in.

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No Male Yet

Site 1

The female has been fairly consistent in ‘her’ box, that has been used as a nest the past 3 years. Last year the male was first seen end of november/early december time frame. Last year he was flushed from ‘his’ box (circle entrance SQR style about 150 feet from slot SQR type used as nest) twice in the first couple weeks of january by landscaping/brush clean up. After the first disturbance he returned the next day, after the second he only spent time (when he was seen in a box) in ‘her’ box and spent much of nesting season in the entrance to the nest. He may have crossed ‘his’ box off the list of comfortable hollows so to speak, or there will be some turnover, or maybe just is else where in a comfortable natural hollow near by and just wait a bit and he will use his box later. But to this point in time he has not been seen since last spring.

Female sunning herself friday 12-14-12
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Whet Your Whistle

Ok sorry bout the title, its better than the the omni-tempting Saw What?
I had not seen a little Saw-Whet owl in like 25 years. I was probably in 6th grade, I didn’t even see it with my eyes, a scope was pointed at it, I saw it through the scope high up in a pine, but when looked with only my eyes I never did see it. Anyway, I was able to whistle this one in right at dusk, with enough light still left to see it slowly fly its way down from some tall dense pine stand, it stayed about 25-30 feet above and did quietly toot a couple times. Normally I won’t use my flash (just the popup kind) for a pic, but temptation got the better of me. But I did have the flash on its lowest setting, there was still some light, and it was just about out of range…ahh I still don’t like it but it was the only way to document it, next time tripod. Even with the flash they are still just ID type documentation pics. I have tried imitating them a few times before mainly more of “hey you never know whats out there’ but never in ideal habitat, and never had anything respond. This was more prime habitat and who knew my imitation worked. And now that I know my imitation works I will have to use it very responsibly.
Also, Earlier this year I found this paper on “Detecting Saw-Whet Owls”. After reports from banding stations were quite good, numbers wise for saw-whet’s. Not really anything new, but some may find it interesting. Its a good time to add it too the Research link section of the blog as well.

time stamp was @ 4:25 ish just about 10-15 minutes after sunset.
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Red Phase, Gray Area

This is another road side pick up of a screech owl, the gray area is our contest. I got a call from my wife excitedly explaining where she found another screech owl. My reaction, being the killjoy that I am. “uh I think that one has been found already.” Not by us, in fact, no one told either of us the location. But I knew there was one seen recently in the same town and after careful examining of some photos, confirmed it was in the same spot. So the judge (me) says not counted in the tally, of course there will be a written formal protest, but that can wait till the end of the year if things are still tied.

She got this with her phone:
screech owl

Back to the Boxes: Site 3 in Transition?

Site 3

Since out and about owl sitings have inevitably slowed down, I can get back to the sites. It looks like the Female at site 3 is missing. For the last 3 seasons, its alway been the male that has been tough to see. The first year, he was never definitively seen. In 2011 he was seen for the first time March 25.
In 2012 he was first documented in February in the pole box.
So this year, he has been Staying in the SQR type box very regularly including today, at least since mid november. But the female has NOT (oops she has been seen as late as 24th of november) been seen since the perhaps the beginning of November. Last photo I got of her was October 22 . So either she has found/looking for better hunting for an unusually long period of time (compared to previous years) or she has disappeared permanently. I unfortunately suspect the latter. This would be the first documented ‘turnover’ at my sites if it is the case. needless to say it will be interesting keeping an eye on this site for the next few months!

Addendum may have spoke to soon! with the new information coming to light, it warrants more time to make any sort of assessment.
Phil over at http://birdsofessex.blogspot.com/ quickly gave me a comment letting me know:

Hi Scott, site 3, I’ve seen the red screech in the SQR box on 3 occasions recently, all late afternoon on 11/16, 11/18, 11/19 & 11/24. Enjoy Phil

male in SQR box today
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Ho Hum Another Roadside Pickup

I don’t think I have ever had a stretch of finding owls, such as this recent last few weeks. Its good to have a good pair of eyes in the passenger seat…uh oh… didn’t I just say that I had a road side pick up of a screech owl to break a tie… well now she has one too, I still maintain my wife has the advantage since she is in the passenger seat, but it was still impressive as it was recessed a bit from the road, luckily there was a parking lot near by to take some time to get a decent photo. It was close enough to this screech owl that IF it was a gray phase I might have suggested it to be the same owl. But since its a red phase, and its just far enough away that it is tough to say if it is a pairing?

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Christmas Tree Barred

No not actually in the tree, but on the way home from getting our tree. Actually it has become a bit of a friendly competition for my wife and I, who can find more owls, she might be more into it for the competition than the viewing of the owls, but she got a good eye to find them as well. So she spotted this one from the road (she had the advantage since she was in the passenger seat) on the drive home from the christmas tree farm. Hunting during the snow flurries. Which makes it 2 to 2 in the barred owl department, but I have a road side screech in case of a tie? but my 2 were when I was alone, while her 2 all of us were together?

Pardon the little motion blur, somewhat busy rd, slick conditions, family truck full just a quick grab with the engine still running DSCF6842