Here’s Dawn peering out through binoculars at our duck box. WHY am I showing you the back of Dawn’s head (as attractive as her head is)?
Well, if you look verrrry carefully at that duck box…
Still can’t see it?
Well, I guess you’ll have to take our word for it since we don’t have a real camera. What we found sunning itself in the entrance of our duck box was an Eastern Screech-Owl!
Eastern Screech-Owls – rufous (red) and gray phases. @Sarah Wolfe, 2011 via Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
This was REALLY exciting for us. I’ve built nest boxes for screech owls for a number of years. Many of these boxes had nesting screech-owls in that time. Alas, none of those in my own yard have had them for awhile. And Dawn had never seen a live owl in the wild at all. We enjoy listening to them very much so we’ve anxiously listened at dusk and dawn for their territorial calls. And indeed, we recently heard screech-owls a couple of weeks ago. There was always a possibility that screech-owls might nest in a Wood Duck box that we’ve placed across the creek with the permission of a friendly neighbor. We’d never seen a Screech-Owl in the box. Nevertheless, we had found “sign,” such as woodpecker feathers and suspected “owl pellets” that indicated that a Screech-owl had been there before.
Today, though, was the conclusive “payoff” – one of our nest boxes is harboring owls during the “off-season” for Wood Ducks, and Dawn finally got her first owl in the field. Eastern Screech-Owls will begin selecting nest boxes for breeding in December, and will begin breeding in January. Let’s hope this Wood Duck box can do “double-duty” this winter as a nursery for new owls.