Monday, September 28, 2015
Around Roundtop, signs of fall are emerging almost every day. Mostly I see the change in the smaller plants—the trees have yet to show much color. Grasses and annual plants are turning shades of purple or red. Dry weather has caused some leaves to fall, littering the ground with brown leaves but not the colors of fall. The western mountain shows some hints of color change in individual trees or branches, but I have to look close to see even that.
The forest around my cabin is thinning out, though. I can see deeper into the woods, and I am ever hopeful for when I can first spot the outline of the mountain to my west.
In the early evening or sometimes in the early mornings I hear the calling of the great horned owls. I hear both the higher pitched call of the larger female and the lower call of the smaller male. Sometimes I think I hear a third owl but I can’t be sure of that. It is still probably a bit early for their courtship, which begins in October, though that month is now but a few days away. Perhaps they are thinking about nesting, though.
Great horned owls are monogamous and famous for fiercely defending their territories. All the years I’ve lived at Roundtop I’ve heard them calling. It’s only been rare times I’ve seen them, even when the calling is close to the cabin and I try to spot them with my headlamp. After all this time, it’s possible but not very likely it’s the same pair. They live an average of 13 years in the wild but the record in the wild is 28 years. I haven’t lived here that long yet, but I’m getting close! Likely at least one of the birds I hear is a descendant of the owl pair I heard when I first moved here.