Owls in February

In recent days, we have been the ever-so-lucky recipients of an “arctic blast”, exceptionally cold air pulled down by the jetstream from more northern climes. The wind chill has been much worse than the actual temperature; it was supposed to be -31 a couple of nights ago. I personally did not confirm this, preferring to stay inside and watch another episode of “Bones”.

By William H. Majoros via Wikimedia Commons
By William H. Majoros via Wikimedia Commons

On the upside, in spite of the cold weather, nature presses on. Believe it or not, now is this time (in New England, anyway) when great horned owls should be nesting, skunks mating, and redpolls arriving from their southern homes. If the weather warms up tonight (which is predicted), I might go out walking through the snow, listening for great horned owls. This is what I will be listening for:

http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Great_Horned_Owl/sounds

Of course, great horned owls aren’t the only owls you might hear at night. Cornell’s Ornithology Lab offers a download of a variety of owl calls that you might encounter.

http://dl.allaboutbirds.org/owlsounddownload?utm_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fcams.allaboutbirds.org%2Fchannel%2F46%2FGreat_Horned_Owls%2F

And, for the real bird dorks among us (like me), here’s their livecam of a great horned owl’s nest in Savannah, Georgia. This is what we in New England have to look forward to in the upcoming months!

The nest, originally built by a pair of bald eagles, now contains the female and two baby owlets, hatched in early February. For video highlights dating back to mid-December, see here: http://cams.allaboutbirds.org/channel/46/Great_Horned_Owls/

Happy owling!

Snow, snow, and more snow

"Novo mesto Breg 2". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
“Novo mesto Breg 2”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

I am perhaps growing a little weary of the subject of snow, yet that is what there is this winter, in vast and ever increasing abundance. Snow, snow, and more snow. Lacking snow shoes, I wade through thigh-deep powder to the bird feeder, trying to keep up with the demands of little goldfinches, chickadees, and nuthatches. I sprinkle sunflower seeds under the feeder for the ground-feeding birds, knowing that, in fairly short order, those seeds will be covered up by yet more snow. I wonder how many of them get eaten, either from above by birds and squirrels, or from below by small rodents tunneling up from the sub-nivean world. Come spring, will I find a giant pile of soggy, uneaten seeds attempting to sprout? Several more months will pass before I’ll have an answer to that question.

In the meantime, some youthful part of me still gets excited by snow days. “What?? Snow day?? Everything’s closed!! No school!!” It’s been a while since I’ve been in school, but the excitement persists. In light of that feeling, here is fun poem by Billy Collins, entitled “Snow Day”.  Enjoy!

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/176051