More bird stuff, big bird stuff.

October 1, 2010

I was pondering the dilemma of Maia last weekend while the RNK was firing up the sauna. I went out to check sauna progress and saw this guy sitting about 60′ from the sauna, eyeing us both.

A great horned owl. A few years ago, when I was interviewing one of the managers of the nearby wildlife refuge, I asked how one could attract owls to one’s property. “Are there nest boxes or perches that will entice them?” I asked.

The manager replied, “The best thing you can do is to plant spruce trees. When the tree’s trunk reaches a large enough diameter, owls will nest in them.” He continued on, telling me that almost every large spruce we had been driving by had an owl’s nest in it; but they were difficult to see.

Fortunately for us, we have several spruce nearing the size large enough for owls. We started looking and sure enough, there is a huge pile of branches in a messy-looking nest in one of the trees right next to the sauna. I tried to convince the RNK we must move the sauna so the wood smoke doesn’t cause the owl to abandon this location over the winter. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have a pair of nesting owls on the property?

As you can see, the spruce are lined up very close to the sauna. In fact, we put the sauna so close to the trees for some sun protection for both us when we use it and for the sauna itself. The sun really does a number on it. We treat the wood every year, but then the RNK had the idea that if we put it in a more protected area, we might not have to treat it every year. Good thinking! Maybe. I’m not sure I’ll make much progress in convincing him to move it. It is mobile, but it takes an afternoon to move it about.

You really can’t even pick them out from the photo, but there are three large piles of branches — nests we assume — in three of these trees. The second tree from the left has a huge pile of branches in it about a third of the way down the trunk from the top. The other piles are in the tree just to the left of the sauna and just behind the sauna.

I didn’t see the owl for a couple of days, but then, Opal was out there barking madly at one of the trees, and when I went to see what was up, there he was. He flew off as I approached. Overall though, he (or is it a she?) seems pretty nonchalant about our presence. Maybe he’ll stay.

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