Imperfect Owling Weather
Last night was not great. Weather was yucky – too warm and very humid, ugh. We also had multiple wild barred owls calling in the woods, which we don’t like. Because they will prey on the saw-whets, and when the barreds are noisy, it’s possible the saw-whets hunker down instead of flying. (Or don’t come down if they are flying over.) We’ll have to try playing some great horned owl calls in the early evening, to see if we can discourage the barred owls from hanging around.
So we only got one little girl last night, above (all three pics are the same owl), another hatch-year.
Getting a majority of hatch-year birds isn’t unusual. It might suggest that we will have a boom year, but it’s still too early to tell. Boom years will always feature a huge majority of hatch-year birds (like 80% or greater), because the boom is caused by saw-whets laying a really large number of eggs. (This might be a reflection of prey boom and bust cycles up in their breeding grounds in the boreal forest.) But there’s always some significant percentage of hatch-year birds.
In addition to the saw-whet, and the barred calls, what we’ve mostly seen in the woods are flying squirrels (cute as the dickens, but a problem, because they get caught in our nets and chew their way out), deer (we had eye-shine the other night), songs of various tree frogs, and far too many spiders. (Last night we learned that the tiny bright green eye-shine we could see in the taller grass at the side of the path belongs to largish spiders. A fact that I did not really need to know, but now I do.)
We were wondering briefly if you can tell what an animal is by the color of its eye-shine (reflection off the tapetum lucidum behind the retina). It would be nice, but alas, it doesn’t work that way; the color can vary between individuals in the same species. In addition to deer, the main animals we could be seeing out there include raccoons, opossums, foxes, weasels, fishers, and coyotes. We usually hear coyotes (who rally nearby) a few times a year (something I always love!), but haven’t seen one. The problem is that the deer eyes are high enough off the ground that you have a moment of thinking that it could really only be a deer or coyote, and which is it? But it’s usually deer.
I’m off for a few nights now, but will pick up again next week!
ah Imperfect Owling Weather, my new tagline