Sunday, March 18, 2018

Guess hoo's home?

by Trina

One thing we didn't know about owls: they're punctual. I've been watching the calendar, counting the days, sitting on the edge of my proverbial seat as March 19 drew nearer. That is the date last year that we first noticed that our male had found a mate and that she was ensconced in the nest box.

Owl activity has definitely been heating up around here for the last few months, with both owls checking in at the nest box increasingly frequently, and a pattern has emerged in which the male, Boyle (Boy+owl) goes into the box, calls to the female, DH (DerOwl Hannah) from inside, scratches around in the pine shavings as though plumping the cushions for her, hops up into the hole, calls from there, and then leaves the box, followed by DH going into the box and giving it a thorough inspection. Call it anthropomorphizing, but it sure looks to us like Boyle is trying to convince DH to reuse this nest site. This sequence, with variations, has lasted from 4 to 6 minutes each time, and occurred on January 10 and 22, February 4 and 26, and most recently on March 11 (video above).

Most concerning throughout the winter, as DH has been checking in, is her apparent discomfort with the camera. It is, of course, a new addition since she nested in this box last year, and we didn't think to put camouflage tape over it, and it does have an eyeball-like lens, and it surely makes noise when it is activated by the owls' movements, all of which might be reason to reject this nesting site... but in her last few visits to the box, she has, at last, quit staring suspiciously at the camera, and, finally, as of this morning, she appears to have come home to roost. She arrived at 6:17, as the morning was just beginning to brighten, and instead of just her usual brief check-in, she settled in, scritched around a bit and gradually drifted off to sleep for the day.  Yes, oh yes, there is video of an owl going to sleep, hereBoyle is also back in his sleeping spot in a pine tree near the nest box.

Now that they've arrived for the nesting season not merely on time, but a day early, we fully expect adherence to the following strict schedule, based on last year:

Mar 19 DH moves in
(?) lay egg #1
(?) lay egg #2
(?) lay egg #3
(?) lay egg #4
Apr (late?) #1 hatch
                  #2 hatch
                  #3 hatch
                  #4 hatch
May 12 owlets start appearing in hole
May 24 fledge, but stay in the area
June 14 departure
June 24 Boyle returns alone
July 13 DH returns