Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Boxes for owls, in trees

Last month (February 2016), I built several nesting boxes for different sized birds.  These included a box intended for Eastern Screech Owls and another intended for Barred Owls.  I gave the two boxes to my parents to put up on their property near Laingsburg.  On Sunday (27 March), I was finally able to see where they placed the boxes.

My parents own about 15 acres of land.  More than half of this land is located in the floodplain for the Looking Glass River.  The rest of their property is above the flood plain and is composed mostly of clay soils.  This property was formerly owned by my maternal grandparents and was once operated as a small farm.

Since my parents purchased the property they have been slowly planting trees to reforest much of the land.  This task has been complicated by the fact that many of their trees were ash trees and have been killed off by the invasive Emerald Ash Borer beetle.  As a consequence, there has been increased urgency for the past several years.

Many of the first trees planted on the property were a combination of pine and spruce species.  Some of these trees are now more than 30 feet tall and provide a dense overhead cover.

A stand of twenty year old pines

Over the past two years, they have found several dozen owl pellets under these trees.  This seemed like a good location to place one of the two owl nesting boxes.

The screech owl nesting box is located in the pine tree just left of center

A closer view of the nesting box.

This box has already been occupied, but not by owls.  It seems that a Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) has taken up residence in this box.

The other nesting box is placed in one of the largest trees on the property.

Placed nearly twenty feet up in a large oak tree, this box overlooks an area of mixed hardwood swamp.  This is exactly the place that I envisioned when I made this nesting box.  It seems like the right place to find a Barred Owl - the only drawback being that there may not be enough mature trees in the area.  I guess only time will tell.

I didn't see any owls, but I did manage to see something just as wild.  While walking along the edge of the flooded marsh, I surprised a large Mink (Neovison vison).  The mink quickly began to swim away and I was able to only get a couple of pictures as it swam away.  Even though it was only a brief sighting, it's always exciting to see a mink.

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