Dad’s Duty

It appears that our Eastern Screech Owl, Megascops asio, couple are in the family way. About 12 days ago, dad owl moved from his daytime perch in the back neighbor’s ash tree, located at the opposite end of my garden from the nest box, to varying spots that are within 10-20 feet from the nest box. That he is now hanging out so close to the nest box indicates not only eggs, but that they’ve begun to hatch. As well, I haven’t seen any sign of mama, as I’m certain that she’s been busy brooding the eggs and is now caring for hatchlings. She probably leaves the nest box briefly in the evenings (everybody has to pee and poo), but she’s mostly in the box with the chicks. Dad is providing meals for the whole family at this point in time. I haven’t seen a rat in weeks!

Some days, dad perches in my SIL’s large ash tree (just over the fence line), other days he’s in our Red Oak tree, just a few feet above the nest box. No matter which perch he chooses, he snoozes, but he’s also keenly aware of what goes on in the garden and he keeps a wary eye on our activities.

Hanging out in our Red Oak tree, he stares at me while I snap a photo.

Our poor owls have had a run of bad luck for about 5 years, following years of successful families raised. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for appearances of fuzzy owlets the first week of May. I’m likely to see mama hang out more in the trees soon, too, because those hungry chicks will be getting big and the box will be crowded.

Our camera stopped working last year after the owls abandoned the nest and we didn’t replace it. I regret that we didn’t, as I’d love to observe the chicks’ progress and the parents’ devotion and care. Even so, I like searching for dad each morning as he sits sentry, protecting his family, and I look forward to seeing mama again, and in time, the darling owlets.

25 thoughts on “Dad’s Duty

  1. I’m so glad they’re back, even without your camera to record the goings-on. I’m owl-less, but I do have a cardinal pair that seem to have a nest nearby. They’re very well fed!

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    • We have one cardinal family in this part of the neighborhood, though I’m pretty sure I’ve seen two different males. Good luck with yours–it’s fun to watch those awkward, splotchy cardinal teen boys!

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      • I heard a sound that was familiar and yet strange just now. I finally came to consciousness and realized it was a mallard. In fact, it was a pair of mallards amusing themselves at the bottom of my feeders, and plucking grasses from the lawn. You never know! They’re clearly from the marina, but now I’m wondering if they’ve nested somewhere.

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  2. How very cool to have an owl family so close! A barred owl has been sighted in our big magnolia, and once sitting on our garage roof, but I haven’t seen it in months. I hope it’s still around… I love how he looks semi-perturbed at your audacity!

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      • He often looks a bit annoyed with me. 🙂 This morning at dawn I saw mama with her head sticking out of the nest box! I’m guessing the owlets are getting big and well, she’s probably a bit tired of spending her days in the box, rather than in a leafy tree!

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  3. That’s exciting to have your own nest to watch and enjoy seeing the young owlets grow. ANd equally how handy to have a natural rat predator as a control. I hope we get to enjoy them along with you.

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    • I’m cautiously excited this spring. This dad owl is quite shy and quiet–I don’t hear as much trilling as I’ve heard in the past. When they were wooing, mama-to-be wouldn’t fly back to the nest box until it was actually light outside. I think she’s the daredevil of the couple. I can’t wait to see how many owlets there are!

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    • Actually, the owlets make kind of a screechy sound when they’ve fledged, are in the trees and are calling to the parents to feed them. It’s more scratchy than screechy, though.

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    • Oh, that’s too bad. We seem to have quite a few Screech Owls in this area. There’s another couple down the street and the neighborhood elementary school hosts a community garden and there’s a pair there as well. I hope your owl luck changes next year.

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