There has been very little owl activity around the nest box for the last three months. For the first time in two weeks, one of the owls (probably June) entered the nest last night and spent about two minutes rearranging the new nesting material that I added in October. The new material is cedar bark mulch, which should provide better cushioning and insulation for the eggs than the thinner layer of sawdust and wood scraps that it replaced. (note: I later replaced this with maple chips after an OwlCam fan warned me that the fumes produced by cedar can be toxic to birds and other small animals). The absence of the loud scratching and digging that occurred during last year's visits suggests that June may be more comfortable with her new furniture. The squirrels that quickly fill every other available cavity in the area continue to show their respect by staying out of the owl's nest box.
The pileated woodpecker (shown here as it started to excavate a tree twenty feet from the owl's nest last October) has returned to enlarge this hole three times since then. It spent another hour elongating the hole this morning so that it is now about twice as long as it is wide. All of the work has been done by the male pictured here. The wood chips that pile up at the base of the tree are all solid wood--no decay apparent. I still do not expect them to be foolish enough to nest this close to the owls, but it will be interesting to see what happens this spring.
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