Hi there! I hope you are hanging in there and that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. I have been spending a lot of time in the woods, listening and watching. It’s good for the soul. It is spring, and despite the human news, the natural world is coming alive.
A butterfly? In March? In the woods? For sure. Friday was sunny and relatively warm in the sugar bush near my house. These Eastern Comma butterflies actually have anti-freeze in their blood. They are able to survive over winter by crawling into cavities and under logs where it isn’t quite as cold, and can potentially come back to life out of dormancy when the temperatures rise. As no flowers are blooming yet, they drink sap for energy. The sugar bush is a perfect place for them.
An owl! Finally! Yesterday I got to watch this Barred Owl hunting. I have heard the odd “hoot” in the sugar bush over the past week or so, and I know there is a pair of them in there. As you know if you have been reading my blog, there have been owls in the sugar bush for years, and I have even seen them raise 3 broods of owlets. But this year the owls are quiet, and I have not seen one until yesterday.
Initially the owl was at the side of the road, but it flew into the forest where it was mobbed by angry chickadees and nuthatches. They even dove right at its head. The owl’s strategy is just to ignore them until they go away, which works. I sat on a log and watched the owl as it surveyed the forest floor below.
There is nothing like finding an owl to make my breath slow down and my focus awaken. The outside world just fades away. I normally can’t sit still and focus for more than a few minutes, but when I encounter an owl, everything stops. I feel like I am being treated to a slice of magic.
I have never seen an owl hunt like this before, though I know it happens. It flew to a sloping branch and then walked down to the edge of a vernal pool- still frozen over with ice except for the very edge. There it sat for quite some time, fixated on the thin line of water between the ice and the forest floor. I believe it was hunting for frogs. Around here the frogs will just be awakening to sing their spring songs. Any day now we will begin to hear them at night. The owl must know that this is a prime time and place to nab the frogs.
Owls are the epitome of patience and stillness. They just wait, and watch.
Look at that camouflage! Who would ever know it was there?
Does this owl have a mate? Will they nest and raise another brood? Time will tell. I’ll continue to watch and listen, as I have lots of time to spend in the woods these days.
Take care, my friends, and if you can- look and listen for the signs of spring. Open your window, sit on your porch, go for a walk, or even sit for awhile in the woods.
If you’d like a little dose of cuteness, here’s three years of Barred Owl babies:
All the best! Hang in there! Leslie