Monday, November 26, 2012

More of November's charms

Likely a raptor nest
 To November’s subtle charms I would add one more—the leafless trees mean I can now see nests that eluded me during the summer season. I found a songbird’s nest at eye level with my back deck on Saturday. I never knew it was there. And this weekend I found two more nests—one a squirrel’s nest but the other was for a larger bird, likely a raptor.

This last nest particularly intrigues me as it is located in a tree right above the trail that the kids walked up and down every day as they walked from the parking lot to Adventure Camp. That’s about 100 kids up and down the trail all the time and not just in the morning and afternoon. The nest is right near the outhouses, and you know every kid probably used those 3-4 times a day. And whatever nested there simply sat quietly and perhaps raised a family just above all that activity.

Squirrel nest - see all the leaves in it?  That's a good indication of squirrels

The nest may have been built by a red-tailed hawk or a crow—something fairly large judging by the size of the nest. Raptors tend to build their nests in the center of a tree, as this one is located. You won't find one of their nests out along the outer branches and probably won't find it nearer the top of a tree, either.

It’s possible this nest will be used by great horned owls later this winter. A local pair of those are courting near my cabin right now. I hear them duetting nearly every morning before sunrise. This morning they were duetting quite close to the cabin. Judging by the sound, they may have been sitting side by side, as their songs came from the same area. The male calls first and the female answers with a slightly different hooting call. To my ear her notes are the same but somewhat differently-paced and perhaps not quite as loud.
Though I have never yet seen it, I’ve read that while duetting the male leans over the female and puffs up his throat so that he looks like he’s swallowed a ball. I tried to find their location this morning in the pre-dawn darkness, Dog in tow, but was unsuccessful. Perhaps tomorrow I will be luckier if the season’s first snow doesn’t keep me from a morning walk.

Great horned owls nest in mid-winter and like all owls they never build their own nests. They merely take over one built by someone else. The calling by these two is close enough to the large nest I found this weekend to make me hope they might choose it for their own. If they do, I could at least attempt to keep an eye on it, though as high in the tree as it is, any owlets would have to be pretty large before their ears would peek over the top. Still, it’s worth keeping in mind and worth checking on in January and February, when the owlets would likely be born. I’ll write myself a note on the new year’s calendar so I don’t forget to check.

1 comment:

Pablo said...

I thought owls were cavity nesters. Learned something new today.

I'm always surprised to find nests this time of year always so close to activity and yet invisible to me the rest of the year.