The owl was not in the box this morning. Or yesterday. And probably not the day before either (when I didn’t check) because he did not poke his head out of the entrance as the sun set. It was too dark to see clearly then, but usually I can detect a shadow, the outline of his face protruding from the box.
Fear slips over me, a worry that the owl is gone, has left the nest, but Frederick Gehlbach’s book assures me this is normal behavior for eastern screech owls. He says, typically, male screech owls will “reoccupy” nests between Christmas and Valentine’s Day, sometimes leaving to roost elsewhere for a few days to a week or so. By St. Patrick’s Day the female will arrive and spend a few days before she lays her first eggs.
The owl has roosted in the box every day since late November, at least 60 days or more. This weekend is warm and it will be warm all week. Why wouldn’t he take a break from the box? All we can do is watch, observe carefully – and the hardest thing – wait to see what happens. This is the first owl in this box. In Brentwood the male arrived around Christmas as Gehlback describes. This is a new nest for this owl, a new experience for all of us.
The yellow rose is in full bloom now, its fragile petals fanned out on top of each other. Trees that lost their leaves are still bare – Monterrey oak, Bradford pear, red oak, sycamore, cottonwood.
Deer travel in groups. It seems like there are at least three in this general area. A group that grazes around Bell/Ladera Vista and Taylor Draper, a group that beds off Q-Ranch Road and Danwood, and a third group north of Danwood and Oak Knoll. All this is conjecture. One day there will be eight deer on Bell and another day, deer traveling up Q Ranch while more deer graze near the corner of Danwood and Oak Knoll. A few young bucks with shorter antlers travel with does and fawns, coming out of the woods around 5 p.m.
The days are getting longer; staying light until 6:15 p.m. February usually brings a spurt of very cold weather. So far, it’s warm, but it’s only the beginning of the month.