Monday, April 20, 2009

Titmice living on the edge

Last year, we put up two nest boxes for eastern screech owls. More accurately, they are Owl Shacks hand made by ornithologist Cliff Shackelford of Nacogdoches, Texas. A pair of owls found them right away. Fairly regularly, we'd see an owl roosting in the opening. Most of the time, they wouldn't care when we walked up almost right under them. It was always cool to see one out sunning or resting.

Here lately, though, we haven't seen any owls. But we did spot a pair of titmice, apparently building a nest inside our original Owl Shack. Today, they've been in and out, feeding the little ones. I could hear them twittering excitedly whenever a parent showed up with chow. I waited until James got home, then he fetched the ladder, and we aimed an camera down into the box.

James snagged the photo of the babies with the mouths open. We're guessing we have at least six kiddos in the nest.

This isn't a great photo, but you can make out a parent, getting ready to go into the box....

Today, I e-mailed Cliff and told him about tenants in his owl box. "Very cool!" he wrote back. "The only other Owl Shack landlord that has reported nesting titmice in their Shack is yours truly! A pair of titmice nested in one of our two Shacks during our first spring here in Nacogdoches (which was '08). We have tufted titmice here, and you have black-crested titmice there. They're similar in that they, like screech owls, seek old cavities for nesting. Pretty neat!"

We think so, too. Of course, James keeps wondering what might happen if an owl returns to the box....

I'd rather not think about that.

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