Friday, May 23, 2008

Waiting game

As part of our backyard Wildscape, we have an owl nesting box that James hung up March 27. It's attached to an ABANDONED utility pole near our chain-link fence. We measured precisely....the roof marks 10 feet above the ground, the recommended minimum height. By April 2, we spotted a pair of owl eyes peering at us from the box. A tenant!

Within a few days, the owl roosted regularly and didn't seem to care when anyone walked up to get closer looks at him. Thus, I shot a lot of photos. We've since assumed that was the male, whom we named Prince Albert in a Box, aka "Al." He's an eastern screech owl (Megascops asio).

A few weeks went by with little activity. Then we spotted an owl roosting again in the late afternoons. We'd walk out to get a better look, and the owl would just disappear, kinda like actor Don Adams used to do in the elevator scene on "Get Smart." My theory: that was Agatha, Al's mate, who was likely sitting on eggs. Like all mothers, she needed a break now and then; hence, her brief respites in the doorway. (During our recent HOT weather, she's taken longer breaks and doesn't mind visitors. That's her in the photo.)

This past week, I visited Cliff Shackelford, who builds Owl Shacks like ours in the carport at his home in Nacogdoches. He told me that he thinks I'm right. Any day now, he said we should be seeing little heads popping up in the doorway. Two or three probably. For seven days, the owlets will poke their heads out, then–poof!–fledge. No more owls in the nesting box. At least, not until next fall, when cold temperatures send Al and Agatha looking for a warm place to roost.

So we're waiting waiting waiting....

In the meantime, I brought home another owl box, which we'll hang on an oak tree on our property. So then Al can have his own digs.

For more information, Owl Shack prices, and bird advice, check out Cliff's website:

P.S. June 12: The last time we saw Agatha was May 27. We never did see any little heads pop up. Cliff said that's unusual. We're hoping the kids fledged completely at night.

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