Thursday, December 27, 2012

December 26/27 Owl Visits

There were two screech owl visits to the nest box last night, December 26/27, 2012.

In the first visit, at 1:54 AM CST, Mme. Owl gives herself away by briefly kicking around the bedding material, which is a classic female screech owl behavior: making a depression for her eggs (even though there shouldn’t be any until March).

December 27, 2012, 1:54 AM CST
29.6 MB MPEG-4 movie.

The second visit is more interesting, because it demonstrates the all-year utility of nest boxes to the owls: one of the owls stops by to deposit a dead mouse for safe keeping, i.e. later eating. This prey caching behavior is normal, and, while all manner of locations may be selected as caches, a secure cavity like the nest box would have to be somewhere around the top of the list. And that is one of the reasons I invariably tell people who ask “when should I put up my screech owl nest box” that the correct answer is always: “now.”

December 27, 2012, 6:07 AM CST
37.9 MB MPEG-4 movie.

In this particular case, the nest box will be functioning like a freezer, as the thermometer on the wall clearly shows a temperature in the mid-twenties, fahrenheit; significantly colder than predicted. I went out shortly after this visit finished, and rapidly made two observations: the first was a screech owl perched on a tree limb about ten feet from my back door (after looking away for a moment, it was gone), and the second was that the thermometer was correct.

1 comment:

  1. Great in a number of ways. First and foremost, the odd blankness - looks just like me when I forget why I've come into a room. It sits and waits for instinct or something to kick in. Waiting for orders. Waiting quite a while, actually, for orders. Just listening for orders. Then, that cool stop-motion thing I commented on the other day. I always think the video has stalled. Third, not having chased them all over the yard, seeing them only on the cam, I always imagine them as bigger beasts. The mouse reminds me how dinky these owls are. Finally, thank you for the wonderful "family portrait" and for the even more terrific description of the process of getting it!