And now, the thrilling conclusion...
3. Is this a first for you? Would you like to have them back?
This was the first time we actually could see an owl so close and the very first time we ever saw fledged owls! It was very interesting to see the dynamics between the fledglings and the parents. We would love to see them again. I really hope that they are a bird that comes back to nest in the area it has been the year before. We have not been able to spot where the nest is yet but we suspect that the tree in the corner of our yard that has been dead for a number of years is the spot. We will have to research to find out if we need to clean out the cavity and hope that this family comes back to the same spot. We will wait with anticipation next spring!
4. How did you determine what kind of owls were in your yard? Are there many others in your area?
The whistles and purring sounds did have us baffled until we saw the actual bird who was making them. As for the adults, they have a very distinctive call: ”Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you, all?” They are also known to only call out the “Y'all” going really low on the “all” note. This is why we nicknamed them the Cook family! In our area, we have also heard the great horned owl and the Eastern screech owl. Two winters ago we were visited by the Great Gray Owl population from up north as the food was scarce up there. So they migrated down as far as the Ottawa valley and stayed most of the winter. The interesting thing about those owls is that they are not used to human presence, therefore they were not afraid of cars slowing down or people coming close to have a better look. They would just sit there and stare. They are an incredible bird also and very, very big.
5. Any words of advice for would-be birders?
Our advice is to be attentive and patient. The best time to see daytime birds is at sunrise or at dusk. For nocturnal species, you can record owl calls of owls that are known to be in your area and play them on a CD player. They are quick to come and have a look at who moved into the neighbourhood. In your own backyard, provide trees as cover to protect birds from predators. If you are out in the country, be sure to leave some dead trees (provided they will not harm any buildings or people) as nesting sites. Also put up birdhouses making sure that the holes in the houses are compatible for the birds in your area. We have found that planting flowers that provide seeds and berries in the fall attracted species during their migration that returned to stay the next year. As they say, if you build it (the safe backyard), they will come.
Very, very cool. I'll trade my flock of mosquitoes for a family of owls any day. Who would you invite into your yard?