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Native Californian, biologist, wildlife conservation consultant, retired Smithsonian scientist, father of two daughters, grandfather of four. INTJ. Believes nature is infinitely more interesting than shopping malls. Born 100 years too late.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Screech done gone and went

Periodically Screech took her midnight constitutional under the eaves.

Gone are the little surprises on the patio.

The redhead won't miss them, but they always gave me a thrill.

Pellets and earthworms on the patio.

Yes, it finally happened.

The screech owl flew the coop. She moved out the night of April 18th.

We grew accustomed to her routine.

In the early evening Screech groomed in the privacy of her nest box; then she would pop up into the nest hole and doze for an hour or so.

She became wakeful a few minutes before takeoff and would then imitate a birdwatcher, jerking her head here and there as if the place was swarming with new life-listers.

As of last week her departure time was around 8:00PM, a little earlier if overcast.

One evening the redhead heard her mate trilling tenderly overhead in the live oak.

My only complaint was that the little bugger hadn't laid any eggs.

So I wrote to Hans Peeters. the owl expert, to ask what was up.

Hans responded:
" . . . normally Western Screech-owl eggs should make their appearance by early April, but we have to be generous and allow an extra week or so. 
There's also the distinct possibility that your box is being used by a non-breeding individual of either sex as a roost site. 
I had such a bird in our yard for several years. 
This owl, however, eventually used another box nearby for raising young while retaining the first chamber for roosting. 
So there are all sorts of possible scenarios. I'm envious, though, of your nest cam."
I'll pull the camera and lengthen the box for better viewing next year.

The other two boxes are a bit far further from the house, and though I'd love to monitor them too, it's a lot of work wiring them for video, and I've heard that remote transmission isn't reliable.


brdpics said...

Cool pellets- looks like it was a beetles fan.

JK said...

Bummer on not getting a nest, but looking forward to seeing the improved cam set-up next year. Just too cool!