Saturday, February 3, 2007

Screech Owl Cam' Status

My local eastern screech owls, Megascops asio, usually begin nesting sometime in March (the average starting date over the last four years has been March 10th), so I'm rapidly running out of time to complete my long-postponed nest box maintenance work. With that in mind, I brought the box down today, removed the owlet rail, evicted a rather nice pair of fox squirrels (I hate doing that to them), cleaned the interior, put in new bedding material, washed the camera compartment windows, and re-rigged the mounting bracket and box with new pulleys. One of the old pulleys had rusted itself solid during last year's nesting season, which made it very difficult to get the box back onto the mounting bracket. Having replaced the lousy hardware store pulleys with good ones from a boating supply store, the block and tackle has never worked better, and it should be free of rude surprises for many years. There's other work I want to do before nesting begins, but if the owls were to move in tonight, the current setup is good enough.

Will the owls nest in the box this year? As always, that's up to them, but at 10:30 PM this evening, the male owl perched near the nest box and repeatedly called to his mate, which is an excellent sign. If they do nest in the box, the screech owl cam' will return, for its eighth consecutive year.

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