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Monday, April 11, 2011

Nest Prep and Courtship

During February, Momma Screech owl's schedule was very irregular.  She would spend an occassional day in the box but usually she spent the days outside.  Where was she?  Why?  What was more important to her?  I can only guess by watching her nightly visits to the box. 

On the days she spent outside, the box was often visited by a squirrel, presumably a female also looking for a place to start a family.  Each night when the owl returned, she would disturb and remove, to the best of her ability, any nesting material the squirrel brought in.  On February 23, I recorded the following:

During this period, she was not alone!  The following video was made on February 24:

On February 27, the box was so full she spent more than 2 hours.  She would repeatedly enter the box and burrow into the leaves and other material, lifting it with her back and pushing it up and out through the opening.  What was left  behind she would simply shred in the box and "sculpt" into the cup of the nest.

By March 13, the squirrel had given up and was no longer trying to claim the nest box.  On that night, the male returned to the box with a "gift" which is apparently part of the courtship routine. 

Although he left with it and she followed him, she soon returned and spent the day in the nest box. Then, starting on March 16, Momma began spending every day in the nest box.  Her nights were still mostly spent outside with occassional visits every night to the box, often  in the company of the male but only for a few seconds before she chased  him out.  Then  On March 20 . . . (see next entry on eggs)

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