Well… last year I lost 5 points to 3 to my wife. That bitter taste lasted all summer long, so I was very focused and intensified my offseason training to do better this year. So far the intense training has given me the quick lead in this years owling challenge. Or perhaps she was distracted by collecting driftwood. Either way the first point was earned with a snowy owl at a local beach. It seems it may be the 4th winter in a row with at least better than average snowy owl sightings. So I am up 1 point to 0 early in the game.
Unfortunately last year this site’s nesting attempt failed, but this is a fresh season, so optimism returns. And now not only is there an in the box camera, but a new external camera too. From the owner:
A red male appeared this morning and then a darker reddish morph came in and is there now! It appears to possibly be the pair we had before the last immature pair! This pair had 3 owlets fledge! We will keep you updated as we now have an outside camera too!
Looks like another site has some owl activity. As we move into mid autumn and leaves leave the trees screech owls seek tree hollows. From the owner:
There have been hints that an owl (or owls) are nearby. This owl is the first I’ve seen in the new slot box that was put up just put up last week!
I had to replace this box because while squirrel resistant, they are not gnaw proof, and a squirrel had gnawed enough of the covering to gain access and thus needed to replaced…more on this soon in a separate post…anyway its nice to see the owl activity.
Well I cleaned up Site 3 a bit. I replaced the owl box on a purple martin pole with a 4×4″ pole set up. It required 3, eight foot, 4″x4″ pressure treated poles, I dug the first eight footer in a couple feet (trying for at least three feet but the ground got inpeneratable about 2.5 feet down) like a fence post. The other 2 poles I connected together with four 1×4″s to make a 16 foot pole. Finally 2 bolts (top and bottom of post) to attach the 16 foot pole to the dug in ‘fence’ post. The whole set up should make the box easy to maintain and a bit sturdier. Then retro fitted the old circle entrance Squirrel Resistant box to a slot entrance and attached it to the 16 foot pole. Now there is only 1 owlbox at this site with one box camera…
Anyway the first owl of the season visited this new set up today. It’s a new red-phased owl, as last year the gray phased pair that had nested in the past, disappeared and did not nest here. So lets hope this owl sticks around!
It was another off year so not too much to report, both site 8 and site 5 (maryland) had successful nest, but I don’t think there was any quantification of the fledglings. Site 9 owls nested but it seemed that the male was too inexperienced and the nest was abandoned. I have also discontinued a few sites for practical or management reasons.
No Nesting this year, no screech owls present at all for the first time since box has been up.
No screech owls…still(recent) calling of barred owls through out year.
Screech Owls: no nesting this year.
Maryland successful nesting but details lacking
First Egg ???
# of Eggs…………. ??
First Hatch ???
# Hatched ………… at least 2
Fledged ……………. at least 2
No screech owls, great horned owl(s) still heard occ.
Screech Owls, nesting occurred, lacking data.
Male= Gray phased (browner)
First Egg …………?
# of Eggs…………?
# Hatched …………?
Fledged ……………. ?
site 9 relocated 2014, Owl in Box with-in 3 days of installation (new record): after the 1rst year, a completely different pairing nested for 2015.
Screech Owls, nesting attempted, male seem to have trouble finding enough food, and would bring acorns in to nest (mistaken as prey?) female abandon nest, which failed.
Male= red phased
Female= gray phased
# of Eggs……………. 4
First Hatch: …………..
screech owl eggs ……4 + (massachusetts) 2+ Maryland
screech owl fledged…..?+ (massachusetts)
Unfortunately things sometimes go wrong in the wild. Such is the case at this site this year. Four eggs were laid but it seems like the male was have trouble feeding the female enough food so she had to hunt for herself occasionally and eventually she must have given up on her brood and left altogether.
On March 24th
Unfortunately the female owl left her box in the afternoon and eventually came back after 7 pm. The male did not bring her food yesterday (and not much compared to the red male and the gray male ( different pair ) from the year before. This was the first time since Oct17 that she left her box and unfortunately she is not in the box this morning and we know with this cold the eggs will not survive. This may be a totally different pair or just a different male ( he is gray). We wanted to try and save the eggs but realize that this is nature! If we had an incubator lol! Today there is a food item in the box but compared to the attention and love that occurred between the last pair- these 2 never had a strong bond like the 2 other breeding pairs we had.
There has been some owl activity after this event, but nothing that would suggest a new nesting might occur just yet. There is some hope as nesting season can run through April. And the ‘small eggs’ turned out to be acorns, and we did contact a local raptor rehabilitator she confirmed there is not much that can be done for ‘cold’ eggs and a specific wildlife permit would be needed to use an incubator with raptor eggs.
After a slow mid-season things have definitely heated up owl wise! The score was 3 points to 1 with my wife ahead. On March 5th my wife and I were on walk at dusk, when she says she thinks she saw something fly…I thought ahh she just saw a timberdoodle(aka woodcock) take off…But then I see a long eared owl hunting over a field/marsh. Upon review the owl sighting was declared a tie, 1 point for her 1 point for me. But then my wife sees a second long-eared with the first and points it out to me. She gets 1 additional point. I could only get an abstract silhouette of one of the owls as it landed in a tree briefly, in the dark conditions. But something is better than nothing, so at this point my wife is up 5 points to 2.
Until yesterday afternoon, when we took advantage of a questionable snowday with a family walk at a different place. I saw a puffy silhouette of a distant form about 80 feet up in a white pine. My first thought was, knowing my luck it was probably a turkey, I got the camera trained on it, then maybe a great horned because of its seemingly large “poofiness” but decidedly an owl. Then oooh cool a long-eared. Goes to show that size perception can be fooled based upon conditions. Got a decent photo anyway, relatively open roost. So now score is 5 points to 3. I don’t know if this is a sign of a long-eared population uptick, or just a bit of the law of averages working its self out?
Looks like the first egg of the year for site 9. Only one egg as of last night, I don’t know for sure what the other light/white things are, perhaps some non-viable eggs casings. Anyway it is nice to see!.
There is a general thought that last year’s tough and snowy winter was tough on the owl population. Luckily a few sites are still active which means some screech owls survived and hopefully this nesting season will be very productive for screech owls.
Anyway the end of the month (March) is prime nesting season and we have a great update from the owner of Site 9.
The female continues to be in her box every day. We have seen a male in the
box who scratches up the shavings and throws them around and deposited a
large vole. We have not seen them in the box together. This is weekend last
year is when they roosted together- so far we have not seen them together.
She has been vocalizing before she flies but not as much as last year. So we
will just have to wait and see if the same male returns or she finds another
Great update, thank you very much!!!
So my wife was ahead in points 2-0 leading up today, both of her points were from snowy owls at the beach. I have already reported on the first snowy owl point. The second snowy owl point we actually saw 2 snowies in total that morning back on December 15th. But only one of them counted towards the challenge because the first snowy owl of the morning was actually pointed out by a reservation staff. The second snowy owl was indeed a good point for my wife as no one else was around and it was sitting on top of a dune.
above first owl pointed out by staff= no point
1 point owl(wife) much further down beach on top of dune, both from Dec 15th.
Fast forward until today as it has been fairly quiet recently in the owl sightings. We took a family walk along some local horse trails as we were coming to a smallish field. We all noticed horses up ahead with their riders enjoying the mild weather and practicing their riding technique. Anyway, I had to make sure our dog (which we normally leave at home) was secure on the leash and made sure I would be the one in control as we walked by the horses. Since I was being distracted with the kids, dog and horses, my wife sneakily found and pointed out a roosting Barred Owl. Now at that time I was down 3 points to zero. Thats a tough deficit to overcome. But I will keep fighting to the end… On the drive home I was able to spot an actively hunting Barred Owl that was fairly close to the road and was able to use the car as a blind of sorts. Phew, I at least won’t get skunked this year owl-point wise. So as it stands now the score is: wife 3 points to 1 point, me.
roosting barred owl.
roadside hunting barred owl.