Spring watch

Back in early March, I mentioned the Great Horned Owl I had been hearing all winter. I had only ever heard a male, and wondered what his breeding status was. At coffee hour after the Saturday evening service, someone mentioned seeing the owlets. Owlets? Yes, the male owl I had been hearing did find a mate (apparently I just never heard her calling), they nested in a tamarisk at the northeast corner of the old court house, and the owlets had recently fledged. It seems likely that the adults are the same pair that used to nest in the tree in front of the church, until that tree came down late last spring.

I went over last night and found the tree. It’s easy to find because of the droppings, feathers, and bones under the tree. There was even a fairly complete skin of a small rabbit (gone as of this morning). I heard the male calling, but it was too dark to see anything else.

This morning I got over there early. It’s pretty foggy right now, but I did see the two owlets huddled together on a branch on the north side of the tamarisk, about a third of the way up, sound asleep. One of the adults was perched far up in the tree, but I did not see the other. If you’re over by the church in the next couple of days, it’s worth taking a look.

It may feel cold, and there isn’t much green yet, but fledged owlets means spring is definitely here.

Later note:

Craig and I went over between the two worship services. The sun was out by then, and we could see them quite clearly. The owlets don’t yet have their ear tufts, but their primary flight feathers appear to be grown in. We talked with an experienced birder who estimated the owlets have another week or two before they fly off. (He also let us look through his scope, so we got a real close-up of them.) Perhaps fifteen or twenty people from church made it over to see the owlets after the second worship service today. Don’t miss them if you’re in the area!