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Boreal Study

Come on Springtime!
by Dan Hartman

March 2, 2020

     Well, it's March 1st.  Time for my owl survey to begin this year, however, it is a bit more special.

     As many of you know, I blew my knee out late January.  Was on crutches for three weeks and still using them off and on as I've had a few set backs.  My goal from the beginning of this ordeal was to be ready for my owl survey.  Which by the way is year eleven.

     Now I can hobble around without crutches,but bending my leg enough to get in an out of the car is something else.  Last night Cindy and I gave it a try.  She drove while I fought my way in and out the passenger door.

     You really couldn't have asked for a better night, although it was a bit cold. 11 degrees when we left, 6 degrees when we got home an hour and a half later.

     I have eight listening posts, the same locations I used the previous ten years.  When we stopped and stepped out at post #1, I gazed up at the star sprinkled sky.  A half moon hung just to the north of my old friend ORION.  Moon glow lit up the snow covered meadows and made bars of shadows in the forests.

     We stood quietly listening.

     Presently a song drifted out of the trees to the north.

     Got one!

     He was about 3-4 hundred yards out.

     We listened to half a dozen calls, then moved on.

     At post 1.5 another boreal sounded far to the south.

     On to post #2.  This has always been a special spot for me.  In 2010, my first year of my survey, I found a boreal nest.  Then five years later located a pygmy owl nest in this area.

     Tonight, we heard a boreal singing to the northeast.  A very good sign!

     On to post #3.  A boreal was singing his prolong song far to the northwest.  So far we could barely make it out.  It was almost like,instead of hearing the song, you heard the absence of silence.

     At post #3.5, the location of two nests in the past, we heard nothing.

     Post #4 was also quiet until Cindy noticed a saw-whet calling far to the southwest.

     Now this is early for a saw-whet. We usually don't hear them until late March.

     Post #5, the location of two previous nests was also silent.  As was post #6 and #7.

     Post #8 is our cabin.  Even though a boreal has been calling off and on for the past two weeks, tonight he was silent.

     All in all, it wasn't bad for an opening night.  Something to definately build on.  We'll be out every night that isn't windy during the next six weeks.  A good year would be hearing 80-100 songs.  Last year we had 45.

     I'll report again around mid month.


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Boreal owl

Boreal owl