A thorough update from the owner at site 8. Excellent detective work and find as well! well done!
The ‘pale gray’ owl has been seen regularly (3-5 times a week) in the slot box. In years past, the slot box has been used almost exclusively, while the round box has remained vacant. The breeding season is the period when the round box has been occupied; a usage that usually indicates a second owl is present. This season, however, an owl (I assume it is the same ‘pale gray’ owl) has occasionally appeared in the round box. Sometimes it is seen only in the morning or late in the afternoon. On those days the slot box appears to be vacant, so I haven’t seen two owls at the same time. The use of both boxes and the behavior of the visible owl suggest the presence of a second owl. On one morning, in particular, the ‘pale gray’ owl was seen in the slot box. Later in the afternoon of the same day, an owl was seen in the round box. Did the ‘p-g’ owl switch boxes during the day? It would be highly unusual for a screech owl to expose itself during the day. Since only the owl’s face is visible in the round box, I could not confirm the field marks I use to identify the ‘p-g’ owl.
Yesterday [12/5/13], however, I was up before dawn to watch for the owl’s return to the box. The ‘pale gray’ owl returned at about 6:45am. Shortly after that a second owl swooped into our yard and perched in a sapling about 30’ from my telescope. There was enough light to see that it was a red screech owl! Unfortunately it didn’t stay in our yard, but its presence confirms my theory that a second owl is in the neighborhood. In fact, it could be the same red owl I found in a fir tree on Nov. 17th about 1/10th of a mile from our yard. While I was walking to Church when I heard and soon saw an agitated bunch of “yard” birds screaming at something near the top of a large fir tree. I stopped and slowly circled the base of the tree looking for a hawk or an owl at the center of the mob. Without binoculars I could only make out a dark blob that could have been an owl, or an old hornets’ nest.
I went back after church with binocs & a camera and circled the tree several more times before I found the owl and took this picture.
Hint lower right.