No Eggs or Owlets this Year

The fall 2019 / spring 2020 season is over early.

Our resident female owl (see 2019 for why I don't think it was Olivia) waited until mid-November to return to the box.  Just as in the 2019 season, this owl appeared skittish in the box and I never observed her flying straight in, just the pause at the doorway.

In mid-January there was some leaf-blowing activity in the yard under the box early one evening.  Our owl left that evening and never returned to stay in the box.

It was clear the owls were around.  I could hear them from my yard, so they were close.

Alton spent a lot of time in the box at night, calling to his mate.  She rarely came to the box.

In mid-February, on Valentine's Day evening, there was an amazing screech competition in the nest box tree.  For over ten minutes, there was screeching between two owls.  After a five minute pause, they did it again for several more minutes.  Given the events of April 2 (the fight), I'd say it was an argument between Alton and another male in the neighborhood.  I regret that somehow my DVR did not capture it and so there is no audio of it.

The usual first egg lay date in that box has been March 21 so by mid-March, Alton was really trying hard to encourage his mate into the box without having any luck at all.    One day Alton even stayed in the box himself.  I guess he was hopeful it would draw his mate home.

It didn't work.  But I still hear owls hooting in the neighborhood.

Alton has been stopping by the house at night and looking in, sometimes coming in.  He looks sad, puzzled about why he doesn't have a family in there.

On March 30 and 31 I noticed Alton roosting in the tree he usually uses when he is watching the nest box.  I saw him there two days in a row.  On those same two days, I watched birds mob another tree and saw an owl fly out.  It clearly wasn't Alton.  He was in his spot. 

It wouldn't be the female.  It would take more to get her off of a nest of eggs.

I think it was another male owl.  I think our female wasn't happy with the home Alton preferred and found herself a new mate,

Screech owls usually mate for life.  I think Olivia left us after the spring 2018 season and Alton brought a new mate to the box that fall.  When the spring 2019 nesting season was unsuccessful, she decided not to nest in the box this year.  And she created a new home with a new mate.

Then on April 1 Alton was not in his recent roosting spot.  He wasn't there the next day either.  It was Thursday and I put a mouse out at dark.  We all waited to see if he would come. Shortly after dark he made two short visits to the box, looking in.  

About an hour later, we watched an owl fly by outside.  A few seconds after that two owls flew into the box fighting.  It appeared to be Alton and the additional male.  It was a rather terrifying sight to see.  Talons and beaks, chattering at each other, a few squeaks, feathers flying.  At one point, Alton flew out, but came right back and tried again.  In the end, he chased the other owl out of the box.

What does this mean for Jollyville?  We'll just have to wait and see.

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