Getting Anxious

Ward has been staying close to the nest as he waits for June's return, but there has been no sign of her.  By this time last year, they were exchanging calls during the days and June was making frequent housekeeping visits at night. No such visits have occurred this year. Ward is show here as he prepares to go after a chipmunk that was scampering through the snow beneath his perch. The chipmunk got away, but Ward's willingness to hunt in daylight shows that prey is still scarce in the territory. This may well account for June's continued absence and might even prevent them from nesting this year. While barred owls nest in most years, they will sometimes skip a year when there is not enough food to support a family. Ward is, however, a very experienced hunter with a good territory and it is still possible that the severe winter will only delay nesting by a week or so.
Later in the day, this black squirrel caught Ward's attention.  Black squirrels are extremely rare in this area, and it is quite possible that he had never seen one before. He watched curiously for almost thirty minutes, but made no attempt to go after it; and may not have even recognized it as prey. Let's hope that the black squirrel does not prove to be an omen of bad luck. Ward has not hooted for two weeks and  is starting to look a bit lonely without June.

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