Owl Study BeginsPersistence pays off??
by Dan Hartman
March 5, 2021Monday, March 1st
As Cindy and I head out for opening night, I'm reminded of my first night out twelve years ago. At my first stop of my first night of owl study ever, I moved away from my car in pitch dark to listen when two small shapes about wolverine size loped by about ten feet in front of me. Switching on my flashlight, I realized they were grizzly cubs and mom was standing twenty feet away starting at me.
Anyway, the night is clear and wind still. 18 degrees is a bit chilly, but I've noticed temperature has very little to do with owls calling. Snow depth at 33 inches is really about average.
At listening Post #1 we parked and stepped out to listen. The Big Dipper twinkled low to the East. Orion hung directly overhead. Thousands of stars filled the spaces inbetween.
We stood quietly listening. (Usually 3-5 minutes per post)
On to Post #1.5, then Post #2. Post #3. Post #3.5. Post #4. We're half done and have heard only silence.
Now on to the upper half. Post #5, Post#6, then Post#7 and we're back at our cabin which is Post #8. Nothing here. A flying squirrel peers at us near our back door.
Not a good start to what really promised to be a good season. Well, I've had zeros before.
Post #1, Post #1.5 and Post #2 were silent. The wind picked up and wiped out the rest of the run.
You could not ask for a better night, no wind, 22 degrees, clear as a bell. A fox crossed the road in our headlights, then another. Probably a mated pair.
Post #1 you could hear a pin drop. No owls. Not even a horned. Post #1.5, I call it that because it's been a consistantly good listening post since day one. Because it's a mile from Posts #1 and #2, I can potentially hear owls singing from those locations which is a drawback.
Nothing. This is really disappointing.
Post #2 This is where I found my first nest in 2010.
Post #3 and Post #3.5 where I located a nest in 2015.
Post #4, #5, #6 and #7.
Back at the cabin, Post #8.
I decided to take a night off after we went to town on March 4th. But a pygmy owl called right below our cabin just before dark. The wind was still and it was a warm 25 degrees. Cindy was game so we left the cabin at 8PM. I mean we can't get shut out four nights in a row!
I know you're thinking "persistence finally pays off". But once again we were handed a big zero.
I haven't had a beginning like this since 2011. That year never got started as the snow level grew to five feet.
What really hurts the most is the perfect weather we're wasting. I mean it could get windy for a week straight.
There's always something out there to give you hope if you look for it. In 2015 probably my best owl year ever, I noticed conditions were very simular to this year. (That is the year I re-created for my Owl Summer video.) Snow level was 36 inches, my first three nights out, the 1st, 4th and 6th netted only four songs heard.
Then on March 8th I got seven calls and the rest of the season was amazing.
Time will tell.
OWL SUMMER VIDEO