Ward and June have apparently decided not to start a new family this year. They can be heard calling from the nearby woods almost every day, but show no signs of nesting. June still lands on the owl rail and hoots for a few minutes several times each week, but does not enter the nest for any housekeeping. This suggests that she still considers the nest box to be home, but plans to take a year off. Ward also remains in the area and is shown here soaking up the last rays of afternoon sun on April 30th while perched in a tree near the nest box. He and June had exchanged classic hoots several times earlier in the day, and I was able to find him by following the crows that occasionally harassed him.
The owl's decision not to nest this year, along with a recent conversation with a neighbor, raises the possibility that Wally and Theodore are still in the area. The neighbor -- who lives closer to their recent roosting area than I do -- tells me that he is certain he hears four owls calling at night: Two of them from Ward and June's normal area and two from a little further back in the woods. While owl parents usually drive their new offspring out of their territory in the fall of their first year, they sometimes allow them to remain through the following summer in years when they do not plan to start a new family. The additional strain that the year-old owls put on the food supply can often be tolerated when there are no new owlets to feed. Only the sighting of more than two owls roosting together would convince me that this has happened and I will certainly report it if it occurs.
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