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Boreal Owl Update

Signs are Good
by Dan Hartman

March 19, 2020

     I've been hesitant about doing a follow up to my boreal owl study because things went a bit south.

     My first two nights out I heard 4 songs each time and had identified 6 owls singing.

     But over the next two weeks, high winds and snowstorms which caused deepening snow levels, cut me down to 2-3 calls per night, when I could even go out.

     Sunday we reached 43 inches on the level, easily our highest of the winter by half a foot.  I felt what occurred over the next ten days would determine the fate of the owl year.

     Through all of this, there was one bright spot.  An area that has been dormant since 2010, the first year of my study and the site of my first nest, has had a boreal calling night after night.  Not moving around like my other owls, but singing from the exact spot every time.  I've yet to hear him perform his prolong song, which would indicate the presence of a female, but his persistence is promissing.

     Two nights ago, conditions weren't great wind wise, but I ventured out anyway.  My first four stops provided singing boreals.  This is good, but they were all owls I'd heard before.  By the way, in addition to my eight listening posts I have four half stops, so now I listen to twelve places.

     At post #3, the site of the nest in 2015 and last year, has been silent so far.  But on this night a prolong song exploded from the cavity.  A really good sign, actually as good as it can get.

     Moving on, at post #4.5 a half stop, I got another new owl, then at post #5.5 another new owl.

     At post #8,  my cabin, I climbed out of the car and heard my boreal calling.  I'd heard him before and actually saw him once.

      Anyway, seven songs.  Three new ones bring my owl total to nine.  A prolong song, my first of the year.  A good night.  One that shows promise for the rest of the season.

     We got four more inches of snow last night.

     We've spotted a pygmy owl north of Undine Falls recently.  And do have a horned owl in a nest up north.


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Boreal owl

Pygmy Owl

Great Horned Owl Nest