• Sunday, March 28th, 2010

After three years, my offering has finally paid off. When we moved to our current house, I put up several boxes for nesting birds. I climbed up a ladder to put up two small boxes for chickadees or titmice and one large box for a screech owl.

The first year, two English sparrows took up residence in the small boxes. Not okay with me. English sparrows are not native birds and are extremely aggressive. They have been known to build their nest on top of baby bluebirds.

As soon as I noticed the male sparrows checking out the boxes, I opened the side door to discourage them. Later that season, I closed them when I saw a chickadee checking out one of the holes in one of the boxes. Then my summer schedule hit and I got busy. I lost track and before I knew it, the sparrows were back and sitting on eggs. Bummer.

The second year, I kept the side door open. I’d rather no one use the box than provide nesting sites for the sparrows. In the big box though, a Gray Squirrel raised a litter. Not my intention, but okay.

Last year, no one used the boxes for some reason. I thought it was strange since in my area, suitable holes for cavity nesters are in short supply, but nature does strange things.

Two weeks ago, I was in the yard picking up my 20 millionth sweetgum ball. I noticed debris stuffed in the large box. I didn’t have my glasses on, so I assumed it was leaves and a gray squirrel had once again found the box as was raising another litter. I won’t lie I was a little disappointed. My neighbor told me she had a screech owl in her yard nesting for years. She had no idea what an amazing thing it is. What an honor in my mind. She was so off handed, I really wanted to scream at her.

Anyway, back to the over zealous squirrel with the leaves in the box. I thought I saw the leaves move, but since I didn’t have my glasses, I attributed the illusion to just that, my eyes playing tricks. But I went in to get my glasses just in case. I’m such the optimist, so you can imagine my surprise when this is what I saw.

This is an Eastern Screech Owl, cinnamon phase. Screech owls come in two phases, gray and cinnamon. I am so excited about my owl. I’ve become somewhat obsessive. I check to make sure s/he is still there and when I don’t see it, I become melancholy. I haven’t seen my owl in a few days, but the other birds seem especially tense and chatty around the box, so I’m hoping it is a female sitting on a nest and is just hunkered down.

From what I’ve been able to determine, the male and female share the cavity and at night, he hunts and feeds her while she sits. I have only seen one owl, but I’m holding out hope.

Stay tuned for more owl progress. Same owl time, same owl channel.

Category: Birds
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One Response

  1. 1

    Owl boxes and other bird houses can be purchased from shops such as Wild Birds Unlimited.

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