Owl Chronicles 2018 – A Sad Beginning

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Somehow I sensed it when I looked at the owl box this morning and the owl was not peeking out as he has done every morning since September.  Somehow I knew he was not there.

Yesterday, while raking leaves and picking up fallen branches and twigs, I found it in the back corner of the yard.  A pile of owl feathers scattered among a thick layer of leaves.  I didn’t want to believe it, but as my mind processed the brown and white bands on the feathers about five inches long and the fuzzy gray undercoat feathers, I knew it was an owl.  The male was still in the box watching me as I picked up twigs and pulled stray weeds, so it wasn’t him.  The question was, is, do the feathers belong to his mate?  His absence from the box today may answer that question.

Yesterday was a warm day and it’s not unusual for owls to take a break from their guard duty to enjoy a brief refuge in the trees, watching the box from there.  And it’s possible he will be back in the box later in the morning, at 9 or 10 a.m.  Maybe he just isn’t ready to be inside again yet.

Who is responsible?  A cat most likely and I truly hope it wasn’t Tunie.  She avoids the backyard because of Daisy, but occasionally I have noticed her roaming about under the deck this winter late at night when Daisy is inside.  And she does travel the corridor between my house and my neighbor’s as a path.

Last year Tim’s owl lost his mate during nesting season, but another mate appeared quickly and eggs were laid.  It seems screech owls can find another mate quickly and at this point, who knows what will happen.  I feel sad, not for myself, but for the owl who has lost his companion.  What does he know?  How does he feel?  Is he confused she isn’t there?  I know wolves feel the loss of a mate  – is it the same with owls?

Christine Baleshta


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