Birds of all kinds are a source of pleasure for us. Whether we're monitoring bluebird and wren nests, photographing whoopers wading or hawks soaring, or watching the antics of the screech owls, cardinals and painted buntings in our backyard, we enjoy them all.
Each winter we watch the screech owl house in anticipation of the arrival of Owliver and Owlivia. They are a pair of eastern screech owls who shelter in the house and in nearby trees, and in the spring raise their owlets there. (Actually, we don’t know for sure that the same pair return each year because all screech owls look pretty much alike, but we think the same two come back each year.)
Owlivia is usually seen sitting in the door of the owl house. She is very accustomed to our comings and goings, and seems to enjoy watching us and the dogs as we go about our daily business.
Owliver is hard to see, but on rare occasions can be spotted perched in a nearby tree.
In the evenings, we see their silent, shadowy forms ghosting through the trees.
This year, Owlivia appeared on schedule and spent her afternoons sitting in the winter sun warming herself. Then, a couple of months ago, she disappeared. No longer was she peering down at us from the owl house, but we did hear Owliver calling to her in the late evenings and early mornings. Then, in early May, we began to see her again. She perched in the door as usual, and just before full dark would swoop out to join her mate. If we waited long enough, one of the parents would fly in, and there would be little squeaks and rustlings in the owl house as they fed the owlets.
Then finally, several weeks ago we were sitting on the patio with friends Carol and Larry, when Carol spied two little downy heads in the door of the owl house. We watched them for a few minutes before they retreated into the snug interior. Over the next several days, we saw them several times, peering down to watch us just as Owlivia does. And here they are…Chicklet 1 and Chicklet 2. (All screech owl babies are named Chicklet, just as all parent birds are called Owliver and Owlivia.)
We enjoyed watching them for a few days, then the owl house was again empty as they flew to join their parents in the pursuit of mice and whatever other small prey they catch while we are sleeping. We wish them good hunting and look forward to their return next winter.