Thursday, 30 October 2014

Empty Nests

Yesterday, the answer to a small mystery was revealed.

In March, as per usual, the screech owls stopped using their boxes for winter roosting. And also as usual, as spring got underway, the starlings returned and soon got busy hauling nesting material into those boxes. But this time, something was different. The normally competitive starlings didn't squabble over the boxes and in fact, treated them with suspicion. Very strange! Anyway, I kept my beady eyes on the boxes but saw no evidence of anything that might be a threat to them. For the first time, those boxes did not house a new generation of starlings.

Well, yesterday I hauled out my ladder and cleaned refuse from both boxes and added fresh wood shavings -- a sort of welcome mat for the owls, if you like. All was revealed! In the north box, the one most used by the screech owls last winter, broken starling eggs were discovered. And on top of the starling's nesting material was perhaps a dozen screech owl pellets. Aha! I'm sure the owls didn't raise brood in the boxes, but they certainly used them for something! Midnight snacks of starling burgers perhaps?

No starlings were raised here this year.

Screech owl pellets and starling egg shell from box.

A tidy little nest in an elderberry bush.

In May, I watched a Baltimore oriole weave this nest.

A Robin's nest in an ornamental crab tree.

As I notice each exposed nest, I wonder if the babies they cradled were safely fledged. And if so, are they now enjoying warmer climes? Next Spring, at least some of them will return. And they will build their secret nests. And I will walk by them unaware as feathered parents voice their concern.


  1. lovely nest photos, specially the oriole nest, what a beautiful structure.

    I wonder what exactly had been happening between the screech owls and the starlings? Intriguing

  2. The cycle of life is complex, isn't it?
    I'd love to watch a bird build a nest. With 4 cats, that won't happen. I couldn't give them the attention.
    The owl pellets are interesting, and the mystery. I leaned out my wood duck box in early summer, refilled the shavings. The mice appeared to have visited! I'll leave it until early spring. Everyone needs a home!


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