The New Year Begins and the Screech Owl is Still Here

Monday, January 1, 2023

            The first day of the year is perfect Texas winter, a cold, crisp morning that begins in the 30s and warms only to 52º.  The neighborhood is quiet; only the breeze weaving through the trees and birds chattering.  Feeders empty as goldfinches, house finches, chickadees and cardinals visit.  Wrens strut on the patio, searching for insects.

            The male screech owl is still in the box.  He has not left once since he arrived.  When was that?  October 28.  He leaves the box around 5:40-5:45 p.m., a little later as the days begin to lengthen.  Winter time, winter light. 

            Many of the trees have lost their leaves, but a few hold onto their red, gold, brown or green.  Red oaks’ leaves are half green and half red; even our young red oaks in the front yard.  The red oak we planted five years ago has grown tall, but its trunk is still narrow.  It seems to have recovered from whitetail bucks rubbing their antlers on it. 

            At Scattered Oaks, many of the great live oaks have lost their leaves, I’m afraid for good.  They stand as great skeletons, stretching their twisted branches out gracefully.  They fascinate me; I think they are so beautiful in their nakedness. 

            Rain has encouraged grass, growing thick, green and long.  The horses love it and it is so nutritious.  Willis munches away.  I’m sure one reason – and it may be the only one – that he follows me out of the paddock gate so willingly is because he knows I will let him graze a short while before we ride. 

            The neighborhood whitetail deer begin traveling through the neighborhood around four or five o’clock, meandering through yards and around fences as they graze on lawns.  Most of the time, bucks and does travel separately.  Tonight a group of ten does and fawns migrated along Bell to Sierra Leon.  Sometimes the does chase each other and their fawns.  Some bucks are still chasing does, but most are settling down and bed in our front yard after dark. 

            The Cold Full Moon was beautiful the day after Christmas, a wide silver halo surrounding it.  Hopefully, we will have a good winter this year, without the damaging freezes of the past. 

Christine Baleshta