After a year without Yellowstone, we are finally back in the Park. I want to sink into the mountains, trees and rivers, Yellowstone Lake, all the wildlife. I am so glad just to be here there is nothing that could make this a bad trip. As I write this I am sitting near the banks of Soda Butte Creek, watching Tim throw a line into the water. It is cool here, clouds shielding me from the sun’s strongest rays. Jagged mountain peaks rise up over the rushing water; patches of snow fill rocky crevices.
The owlets are getting ready to fledge. They jump around the box, stretching their fuzzy gray bodies up to the box ceiling, spreading their wings, flapping them. They dig in the sawdust, scratching away, searching for tidbits.
Inside the owl box, Mrs. Owl pecks at last night’s leftovers and feeds the owlets. Her gray feathers, dark with rain, stick to her, making her appear smaller. She grooms an owlet, ruffling through the downy feathers of its head.
The fifth egg hatched on or about April 17 when we noticed the last egg missing, but weren’t sure if the egg had hatched or been eaten. The owlets huddle together in one big fuzzy ball, so it’s hard to tell how many owlets are there, but by Monday the fifth owlet could be seen in the middle of its four siblings, its tiny white head and skinny wings and body sticking out.
The first owlet hatched on Monday, April 12, one month from the day the first egg was laid. Two more owlets appeared the next day, leaving two eggs unhatched. On Wednesday, April 14, two eggs were still unhatched with three owlets. Last night only one egg remained, so four have hatched.
A little warmer today. Last night’s icy precipitation has coated streets, walks and driveways with a dangerous glaze. The driveway (which I attempted to shovel and clear yesterday) is a bumpy crust of snow and ice. No going outside today; too slippery, too much chance of falling. The temperature is slowly going up - 30º at 8:00 a.m. as opposed to 1º at 5:30 a.m. Monday and below 19º at 10 a.m. yesterday.