As I look out at our snowstake, I see the snow level is riding at 46 inches on the level. The way it's snowing now we'll pass the 4 foot mark again by tomorrow.
Well, as if I hadn't already made my decision, this latest storm really clinched it.
My boreal owl study is done.
My last three nights out produced no songs, and really the whole spring wasn't what you'd call promissing. I went out eleven times, a low number because of the many snowstorms and unceasing wind.
I did hear eleven songs from five different owls. But none appeared to have found mates. I heard no saw-whet owls and only a few horned. I've also yet to hear a pygmy whistling it's spring mating call.
So I'm looking at my second straight owl less year, unless great grays return later this month, which is doubtful.
Maybe next winter will be more like 2015-16 when snow levels on this date were 16-18 inches and owls were prospering.
To keep my owl addition alive, Cindy and I returned to Three Forks. I wanted to see if the little saw-whet we'd discovered was still hanging around. Also the pair of horned owls should have chosen a nest by now.
When I entered the saw-whets perching area, he was nowhere to be seen. Then I made a mistake. My head brushed his perch directly above me. Instantly he flew out to land on an open perch thirty feet away. For a time the tiny owl watched us, before hopping up into a thick spot where he went back to sleep.
The horned owls were both perched nearby. Surprisingly they still weren't on a nest.
Checking a few more areas, we found two more great horned owl pairs. Those were nesting, but the nests were high in cottonwoods.