Ward's Job

Ward & Mouse (16190 bytes)Ward could be heard returning to the nest with food throughout the nights, but rarely extended his activities into daylight. This picture records one of those rare occasions when he appeared in enough light to permit his picture to be taken. The dimly-lit mouse dangling from his beak represents the family's most popular entree. Upon arriving on the owl rail, he would  repeat this call impatiently until June stuck her head out and accepted his offering. If--as in this case--she did not respond, he would fly away with his prize. Feeding the chicks was obviously not one of his duties. Ward's duties were also surprisingly limited in the area of territorial defense. His role appeared to be restricted to sounding the alarm when an intruder approached.  The "heavy lifting" was left to June. On one occasion he engaged in an extended hooting contest with a visiting barred owl that had approached to within 100 feet of the nest. While he seemed appropriately concerned, he would not leave his perch to defend the nest. After listening to this exchange for about five minutes, June left her duties in the nest to fly over and drive the intruder away. Perhaps it was another female?

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