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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Romance is in the air

It has been a cold snowy month in Central New Jersey.  The cold finally broke about a week ago and it seems like the owls have sensed spring.  Activity at the nest box during the coldest times was very low with one of the adults (I am now pretty convinced it was the male roosting in the box almost everyday but very little activity after dark.  By very little I mean one, or at most two visits on any night back to the box and only rarely was this by both owls.  Atypical visit lasted no more than a minute--not very exciting if you were to stay awake waiting for it.  Thankfully, I can record and scan through the night in just a few minute.  Of course, I have no idea what they are doing away from the box except to say that I occasionally hear distant calling from the yard.

Since March 12, however, there have been nightly visits including last night when I recorded the following movie.  The entire clock time from fly out to the last visit shown was less than 20 minutes and I have compressed it to about 4.5 minutes for your pleasure.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Status Update March 7, 2015

One of the owls has been roosting in the box during the day every day (except for 3) since February 7.  This is very different from past years.  In the last  year that owlets were successfully fledged (2012), the female was the owl that roosted in the box but only a few times until just 2 days before she laid the first egg (then every day after that).

Another major difference this year is that nocturnal activity at the box has been very minimal compared to 2012 and other previous years.  Below is a video of the best  observation I have been able to make of the owls together in the box since the day they were both in there during the day.  In this video, one owl enters the box calling (a monotonic trill) followed immediately by the second.  Is the male chasing the female or is he leading her into the box to try to entice her to nest?  Or maybe it is something else entirely.

Anyway, enjoy this video and the live feed that I am trying to provide during daylight hours.  During the day, the roosting owl almost always "sleeps", a restless sleep interrupted by squirrels and small birds looking in to the box to see if she/he is there.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

One of the big mysteries to me is which owl is which.  In past years, I could tell the difference between the two individuals and identify the sex of each based on their behavior.  This year they appear to both be red-phased owls and I have not been able to identify any significantly different features.  Here is (I hope) the video that I tried to post a couple of days ago of the two together in the box.  This, by the way, is the only time I have ever seen both owls together for long periods of time.  In this case, the top owl as you are looking at it was there when the sun came up, the other owl joined during the daylight--I think in response to a marauding Cooper's Hawk that scattered the feeder birds about the same time.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

My owls are completely wild and are free to come and go as they please.  I make every effort to WATCH and not interfere with their activities in any way.  As a result there are things I don't know and have to deduce by continuing to watch.  My priority is to record and document their activities.  In order to do that, I use my computer to record from sundown to sunrise every day.  During the day, the Screech Owls (as do other nocturnal owls) spend virtually the entire time sleeping.

I will be trying to broadcast live during the day (I know that is the boring time) and preparing short videos from the nocturnal activities to share with you.  In central NJ, nesting (if it is going to occur) is due in mid-March.  By that time, I hope to be able to record and broadcast simultaneously.  At the moment it looks like I will need a second computer (newer than the one I have which is running on Windows XP) but I am looking at other options.

Tomorrow, I will share some of my observations from this and past years on the weeks leading up to nesting.  I also hope to have at least one video ready (but am struggling a bit with the updated software that is smarter than my brain).  More then.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

2015--A New Year for Owls

First, I want to apologize to my past viewers for dropping posts last year but after the squirrel moved in things changed rapidly. As soon as the squirrel was out of the box (a couple of days after the last post), I cleaned the box but never saw the owls again.  Now it is a new year and new owls.  Much to learn and share again.

There as been at least one owl in the box every day since February 7.  On February 12, one owl was in the box after the sun rose but sometime during the day, it was joined by a second.  A Cooper's Hawk flew through the yard scattering the birds from the feeder about the same time, however it would be conjecture at best to say that was the reason.  In any case, here is the video of the two together with the first owl near the top, the second owl at the bottom.  I would be guessing to apply a sex to either owl.   (NOTE:  I will have to add video later)

In any case, I have the camera mounted and the recorder working.  Still not able to broadcast live but hope to have that together by the time any eggs are laid (mid-March is typical in Central NJ).  In the mean time, I will try to post images and videos of what ever happens and share my thoughts and what I have learned on this blog.  Thanks for joining me (and the owls) for a new year.


Monday, March 10, 2014

2014 New Year, New Female

Just an announcement that will be followed but updates (hopefully) on a regular basis:

There is a new female in the nest.  She is a beautiful red-phase Eastern Screech Owl--very different from the female of past years.  There is also a male that is a gray-phase that could be the male from last year but I have no way to know for sure.  Here is a photo from today of the female looking out of the nest.  No eggs yet and she has not been in the nest box on a regular basis.  She has been here alone and with the male on several occasions but we will have to wait to see if this will actually be a nesting year.

If all goes as planned, I will have two cameras this year.  One in the box, the second is the one in this photo that should allow us to see the interactions from outside.  I do not have all of the computers/connections available to broadcast at this point but am working on identifying what is needed.  If anyone would like to help out financially, I may have to ask for help with that down the road.  More in the next couple of days.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Squirrel has moved in

On Tuesday night (3/26) both owls were around much of the night and even were both in the box together.  I will try to sort out the video from that night when I have a chance.  Then on Wednesday, only Gray was around.  No owls came by during the night since early Thursday morning.  Today, I was away most of the day and when I got home there were many new leaves (and a squirrel) in the box.  Trying to evict the squirrel, I tapped on the box, it left, and I opened it to clear some leaves.  Unfortunately, I discovered that the mother squirrel had brought her young into the box also.  They are not new born but appear to be several days or more old.  I couldn't see how many there were (at least 2, maybe 3 or 4).  Not wanting to hurt them, I closed the box for the night.  The mother squirrel has returned to nursing and sheltering her brood.  I don't know what will happen if the owls return tonight.  I guess we will find out together.