After two unsuccessful tries for singing boreal owls, Cindy and I were amprehensive about going out again. But last night the warm temperaturesand minimal breeze beconed us out once more.
We left at 9:30 PM as the moon begun to appear over Mt Republic. The tree shadows layed zebra patterns across the highway as we drove west. Looking out into the forest we could see the snow level still hovered around three feet. In the past I've found once snow depth passed 30 inches owls can be hard to find. In 2011 and 2014 when snow measured 42 inches, I didn't hear a boreal all spring. We're at 38 inches now.
We reached Pebble Creek, parked and listened to the night. A horned owls call drifted in from the south. We stayed longer than usual because at least here the tree wells were opening up. Even in the bright moonlight, Orion and the Big Dipper were easily visible.
We drove East. At the Thunderer pull off we tried again. It wasn't a true listening post because it's only a mile from Pebble Creek. I usually like to listen every two miles.
We heard nothing.
We tried a mile farther east in Ice Box Canyon. This is listening post #2 as it's two miles from Pebble. In 2010 we found a boreal nest just to the north, so we always stop for a listen.
On to post #3. Tree wells are no longer visible here as the snow is deepening with the rising elevations.
We parked and climbed out of the car. Instantly a boreals song sounded from the thick timber to the southwest.
How about that? We got one! He continued to call as we drove on.
At post #3.5 we parked for a short listen. Just to the south we'd found a nest in 2015.
On to post #4.
At post#5 we've had a nest the last two years.
On to the Northeast Gate and post#6.
Nothing. And the wind was picking up.
At post #6.5 I've put up a cluster of nesting boxes.
Post #7 is our cabin.
On a whim we drove to Cooke City and parked where we'd released an injured owl last spring.
Well, in 2012 and 2015 we had similar snow levels (36 and 37 inches) and the singing began later. Maybe we'll have similar results this year, although I'm still wandering about the dry finish to last summer.
I should know is the next week or so.