Jim Podsiadlo,bird carver,screech owls

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September 2003

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October 2003

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November 2003

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December 2003

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January 2004

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February 2004

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Roosting News

09/18/03 - Fall is approaching and about 2 o'clock this morning we heard the male trilling softly in the front  yard.

09/24/03 - We haven't had time to add the infrared sources to the boxes, so we're still 'blind' after dark. However, we did hear the male enter the right box around midnight and do his Geiger counter sound very softly for about 15 minutes or so. We only hear him do this when his mate is nearby.

10/01/03 - It's getting colder now and tonight the male visited the right box for the first time since we installed the infrared source. He entered, drummed the box, looked around a bit then proceeded to sit in the opening and trill softly for a minute or so.  Looks like we're off to a good start and expect him to be roosting in the boxes all winter. Hopefully this winter will be more forgiving than last.

10/04/03 - Activity is picking up. Scarlet entered the right box at 3am and proceeded to call Rhedd with a continuous monotonic trill, a.k.a. Geiger counter sound, for about 30 minutes until he landed on the front of the box. [  Scarlet and Rhedd   :-)    ]  He did not enter, only peering in from outside a number of times then flying off. At 4am he entered the left box and called her in a similar fashion. By 4:30am both Scarlet and Rhedd were in the left box exchanging trills for about 5 minutes before she evicted him. She remained in the left box during daylight hours. She left silently around 6:30pm after sitting in the hole for half an hour. It's raining and approximately 55 deg. F.

10/13/03 - Rhedd entered the left box around 8:30pm, rattled around a bit then proceeded to sit in the entrance hole and trill very softly for about 3 minutes. He continued to sit quietly in the hole a few more minutes before flying off for a night of hunting. Clear sky, high 50's, and a nearly full moon tonight.

10/16/03 - The male entered the left box around 5:45am and did his Geiger counter for around 15 minutes then exited. Immediately after he left the box the female appeared in the entrance hole but did not enter. While she was looking in he nudged her from outside and was greeted with a nasty loud screech as she flew off. Neither returned before sunrise.

10/17/03 - The mail entered the box around 5:15am, sat in the entrance for about an hour then dropped to the floor of the box and spent the day resting. During the day, numerous songbirds were mobbing the box keeping him alert a good portion of the day. He exited the box around 6:15pm with no calling of his mate. Rhedd seems to return to the nest site every year around this time, plus or minus a few days.

10/18/03 - Rhedd spent the day in the left box again. A grey squirrel started to enter and came face to face with one angry screech owl. Rhedd 1 / Squirrel 0 !!  :-)

10/22/03 - Female continues to enter around 6am and exit around 5pm, leaving a little earlier each day. She continues to stay in hole about 30 minutes prior to flying.

10/23/03 - Owl back in the box at 10:25pm. Immediately got up in the entrance and began geiger counter for about 30 seconds then stayed in the hole silently. Owl dropped down in the box and stayed down occasionally doing a descending or monotonic trill. Owl left box sometime prior to 12:20am.

10/24/03 - This owl seems a bit skittish, unlike the male, could be the female. Looks more brown than red. Flew at 6:11pm.

11/01/03 - Owl entered about 5am, did geiger counter (very slow monotonic trill). Stayed in the entrance until 6am. Flew about 5pm.

11/02/03 - In at 6am. Owl entered and did geiger counter again. Flew around 5pm.

11/03/03 - In at 5:07am, did the geiger counter for a few minutes then left. Re-entered around 5:50am for the day, then flew at 5pm.

11/04/03 - Owl in RIGHT box calling for a short time at night. The left box has been seeing the most activity.

11/05/03 - Owl entered at 6am and left at 5pm.

11/06/03 - Owl in the RIGHT box calling at 4:07am flew out shortly thereafter. owl in left box during the day 6am to 5pm. Sounded like the male based on the pitch of the call. This has been the only reliable method for differentiating the male from the female.

11/08/03 - In at 5:45am, out at 6:03pm. Up in hole at 4:40pm then dropped back down. She seemed to have seen something in the front yard.

11/09/03 - Cool this morning, high teens or low 20s. Owl cam in at 5:40am and dropped down immediately. Monotonic trill and descending trill for about 1 minute at 6:15am. High pitch sounds like the female! 17 deg. this morning.

11/10/03 - Owl on front of box looking at 4:45am. Seemed timid. Entered at 5:50am and left around 5pm.

11/11/03 - Owl entered at 5am and left at 5:45pm. Many songbirds mobbing the box during the day, especially starlings. Temp in the 40s, rainy afternoon.

11/12/03 - In hole looking out at 6:20am, dropped down around 7am.

11/13/03 - Windy day, gusts up to 60 mph. All else the same.

11/14/03 - Windy again today, 50 -60 mph, female in left box at 2am.

11/15/03 - Male in RIGHT box around 1:15am then moved to the LEFT box. Female in left box during the day.

11/16/03 - Female entered at 5:40am with a mouse, called LOUDLY at 6:20am and left at 5pm.

11/17/03 - Up in entrance at 4:20pm, left at 4:50pm.

11/22/03 - Female entered box and removed the cached mouse at 12:30am. Entered at 6am and flew at 4:50pm.

11/29/03 - Entered around 6am and left around 5pm. Cached starling but consumed between 3 and 4pm.

12/01/03 - Entered around 6:10pm and left around 4:50pm. Cool cloudy day.

12/02/03 - Entered RIGHT box around 6am and left about 5pm.

12/03/03 - Owl in LEFT box. She sits on the front of the boxes looking in for a minute before entering. Very cautious and quite different behavior from the male. Now that the male is gone for the winter, she is starting to bounce back and forth between boxes.

12/04/03 - She landed on the left box around 6am, dropped in and bounced immediately back up and out, as if something had spooked her. She flew to the RIGHT box entered around 6:15 and remained in until 5pm. At 11:05pm she entered the LEFT box in a panic, dropped to the floor then flew out within seconds. She flew to the RIGHT box and repeated these actions leaving after only a few seconds.


12/06/03 - She entered the RIGHT box at 6:30. We're getting a bad snow storm today, about 2 feet. She called briefly from the floor of the box in a monotonic trill. Slept all day then left around 5pm. No sign of any cache.

12/07/03 - Entered left box at 6:30am. Left at 5:15pm. We got more than 2 feet of snow. Very windy. She cached a mouse around 11pm in the left box.

12/08/03 - In left box around 6am and left around 5pm. Back in LEFT box around 7pm, ate the mouse and is resting still at 11pm. Left the box around 4am.

12/09/03 - In at 6am out at 5pm.

12/10/03 - In at 6am, in the entrance until 7am, flew at 5pm.

12/11/03 - In left box 6am to 5pm.

12/12/03 - In left box 6am to 5pm.

12/13/03 - She checked out the RIGHT box just after midnight this morning. In RIGHT box 6am to 5pm.

12/30/03 - Female cached a FLYING SQUIRREL which was a bigger prey item. She stayed in the box the following night conserving energy and occasionally snacking on the squirrel.

1/02/04 - Owl cached a few mice tonight. In around 6:15am and left around 5pm.

1/04/04 - Nothing cached. Did some camera maintenance during the night. Not fun! In at 6am, out at 5pm.

1/07/04 - VERY COLD. -5F and windy. In left box 6am to 5pm.

1/09/04 - She cached something at 11:15pm. Still VERY COLD around -5F.  Looks like she'll stay in all night after her cache.

1/10/04 - Indeed, she did stay in all night. Very little activity over night. Max temp today will be in the single digits.

1/19/04 - Female entered the box at 6:30am. Grey squirrels were a big problem today, but she vigorously defended her box. Left at 5:10pm
She entered again around 9:30pm with what appeared to be a mouse. After eating her prey she settled in for the night. Overnight temp in teens.

1/30/04 - Female entered around 6:15am and left around 5:15pm.  She re-entered to cache a mouse around 1:15am and stayed the night spending only a little time in the entrance hole around 2am and 4am.

1/31/04 - Scarlett is still in the box from last night. She consumed the mouse during the afternoon and left the box around 5:20pm.

2/1/04 - Owl entered the box around 6:30am and flew at 5:30pm. She spends about 30mins in the entrance hole before flying at night, but she is much more shy than the male owl.  If she sees any movement inside the house in a window close to the box during this 30 min. interval, she drops right back down to the bottom of the box for awhile. The male would usually let us photograph him from the windows and did not seem bothered by our presence.  All owl boxes are located within 13 yards of the main house and the one that is currently occupied is only 10 yards away. Based on several years of observing eastern screech owls, it appears that they prefer to nest close to a dwelling. This may be because other predators are less likely to be a problem this close to humans. We're now into February and hope to see the male owl (Rhedd) again over the next few weeks.

2/3/04 - Squirrels can be a nuisance, today was not a good day. She entered around 3am and was 'joined' by a grey squirrel around 8:50am. After a brief encounter she flew from the left box to the right box and spent the day resting there. The squirrel didn't stay in the left box. We'll give her a little 'assistance' tomorrow, as needed. This goes on every year, but as the breeding season nears the owls become more assertive. We've not had an instance over the past several years in which the squirrels got their way. She flew from the right box around 5:30pm. What box do you think she'll occupy tomorrow?

2/4/04 - And the winner is.... (drum role). Right box. She looked in briefly this morning but opted for the right box again. This was also her preference in October until Rhedd insisted she use the left one. We'll see if she stays put. Back to squirrel watch duty for now. Enjoy!

2/5/04 - Several eastern bluebirds were mobbing the boxes this morning. Nice to see them around as it makes me think of spring. The bluebirds used to nest in the yard but moved out several years ago when the owls took up residence. They still frequent the yard during daylight hours when the owls are not usually hunting. Scarlett remains in the right box and a quick look back at prior years records shows that she often changed boxes during February. Last year, Rhedd returned to his territory around February 22nd. Entered at 6am and left at 5:20pm.

2/6/04 - She continues to roost in the right box. The weather was bad today, snow and freezing rain. She entered the around 6:30am and left around 5:30pm. In the entrance hole from 3:30pm to 5:30pm (unusual), looking at the left box.... hmmm.  I haven't seen any caches in the past few days.

2/10/04 - Spring is in the air, and as usual Scarlett is spending some time out of the box for a change. Every year, in the weeks leading up to the start of breeding season, she exhibits a random pattern of being in and out of the box during the daytime. We expect to see Rhedd over the next week or two...... Scratch that, she just entered at 7:05am., still consistent with prior years behavior.

2/14/04 - Every year, in the weeks leading up to the start of breeding season, she exhibits a random pattern of being in and out of the box during the daytime. Today it's not a false alarm, she is spending time out of the box today.

2/15/04 - She is out of the box again today. We expect to see Rhedd show up along with Scarlett over the next two weeks and begin their nesting rituals. Spring is just around the corner. I can't wait.

2/16/04 - In case you haven't noticed, Scarlett has been out of the box since Valentine's Day. She's in the area visiting Rhedd. Again, this is common behavior for this time of the year. It's actually unusual that she was in the box virtually every day since October. In any event, we expect to see both owls return within the next week or so.

2/17/04 - Owl entered briefly at 6pm and left in less than a minute.

2/18/04 - Male (Rhedd) entered the right box at 6:09am and was up in the hole a few times before settling down around 6:30am. The male is smaller, a brighter red, and his facial discs are a stronger white. Also the streaks on his forehead appear more prominent. Flew at 5:45pm after calling four times with a soft monotonic trill.

2/19/04 - Male entered both boxes briefly around 12:10am and spent time sitting in each entrance. He left around 12:30am and did not enter later in the morning.

2/20/04 - Rhedd entered the right box at 5am then quickly moved to the left box, where he cached a mouse then left around 5:10am. He re-entered the right box around 7am and spent the day there. Around 8:30am he briefly called in a monotonic trill, I'm not sure if Scarlett was nearby but it's possible as his call was very soft. He flew around 5:30pm but re-entered the left box to consume his cache. We got some great video of him eating the mouse. We'll try to post it this weekend. Rhedd flew out of the left box at 6:15pm

2/21/04 - Today was an exciting day- Rhedd and Scarlett are back together after a long cold winter apart. The 'owl alarm' went off at 5am this morning as Rhedd entered the right box. Shortly thereafter he was joined by Scarlett and the pair proceeded to nuzzle and 'purr' somewhat like a cat. They stayed together in the right box all day and spent a lot of time preening each other and communicating with slow monotonic trills. It was spring like today with temps in the mid 40's.

2/22/04 - Scarlett is in the box again today with Rhedd standing guard in a nearby tree. They trill once every hour or two. Looks like she has a vole cached in the box with her today, which she'll probably consume before the day is done. Temperatures are getting warmer and the caches do not keep as well this time of year. She deposited the vole around 5am and then entered the box for the day around 6 this morning. The temperature is around mid 40's today, a welcome change from the prolonged sub-zero temps we've had this winter. After leaving the box around 6pm, she re-entered and took her vole outside to be consumed I guess.

2/23/04 - Scarlett was in and out of the right box all night long. By morning, I regretted having the audio monitor on during the night as I didn't get much sleep with her going in and out and calling Rhedd from time to time. Looks like some good solid bonding going on between them and we are hopeful that the pair will nest again this year. I've made some software tweaks and you may notice the increased resolution on the video. The forecast for the coming week is mild for a change. This is welcome news and hopefully nesting will begin in early March. Only time will tell.

2/24/04 - The Scarlett 'alarm clock' went off again at 4am when she entered the right box for a short while. She entered again shortly after 6am to stay for the day. Today was quiet where she slept until around 5pm when she sat in the entrance and called Rhedd with a soft monotonic trill. She flew around 5:55pm. The male entered left box and drummed his tail feathers against the box walls. We've noticed this behavior in prior years and it seems to be his way of inviting the female into the nest box. She didn't enter the left box so he quickly flew to the right box and repeated the ritual. Scarlett joined him in the right box and he immediately flew out. She followed him out a minute later. A few minutes later the Rhedd entered the left box again and drummed his tail, but Scarlett didn't respond. Even in the fall, Scarlett showed a clear preference for the right box. In past years it has been the right box that she used to successfully fledge her young. Scarlett indulged him by spending most of her winter in the left box. The weather is mild again today with the temperature in the high 30s.

2/25/04 through 2/29/04 - I was competing in a bird carving competition in Montreal. (Took 1st place in Seabirds!) I monitored the boxes remotely from Montreal and it looked like the owls behavior patterns continued as in recent weeks.

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Jim Podsiadlo.
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Revised: July 09, 2006 .