Is it Springtime yet? Not quite, but during this past weekend of January 29th, we had temperatures of 76 degrees, and it felt like Spring. I wonder if the birds and plants felt the same way.
What inspired me to write this post was the surprise that greeted me this morning when I took our dog out into the backyard. From a distance, I caught a glimpse of something gray in the entrance to our owl house. At first, I thought that it must be a squirrel investigating the owl house because it was much too early for the birds to start nesting. But as I slowly walked toward the owl house, it became surprisingly clear that there was an Eastern Screech Owl inside the house. As a crept forward to get an even closer look, the owl ducked down and away from the entrance so that I could no longer see it. (The photograph above is from last year.)
I don't know what to make of this early visit. As I mentioned earlier, it seems much to early to start nesting. We have had Eastern Screech Owls take up residence each of the last four years to have their owlets. However, each time, the mother owl did not appear and begin nesting until late in March or April. Given that we are still in January, I wonder if she was confused by the 75 degree temperatures over the previous weekend. If so, the current forecast of low temperatures this week in the teens should dispel that confusion. I'll be watching for the next few days to see if she sticks around.
We now have Eastern Screech Owls flying around our yard at night all year long. Just the other morning, I woke up particularly early and took our dog outside while it was still dark. As I stood out in the yard, a huge shadow glided silently overhead from one tree to another. It was a big silhouette that I knew could only be one of our owls. Often times, in the early evening, I will hear the trilling whistle of a screech owl that lets me know they are still around. And every once in a while when I work outside at dusk, an owl will float by to perch in a tree or on a fence top to keep an eye on me.
They are such fascinating and majestic animals. I cannot encourage you enough to put up an owl house of your own.