Ward and June remain in the area, but must now elude a Great Horned Owl that has prowled their territory for the last week. On one occasion, the nearby call of this dreaded visitor was answered by the distant calls of two other great horned owls. Ward and June have been silent on the nights when these unwelcome visitors exchange hoots, but can often be heard calling to each other in daylight. I hope that these visitors are only passing through as they did last fall and will soon depart the area. While Great Horned Owls often nest in old hawk's nests and might find the nearby cooper's hawk nest a suitable home, they favor a more open habitat that supports the rabbits and other larger prey they prefer. Ward and June's densely wooded territory with its smaller prey is better suited to barred owls. This picture of Ward was taken on a rainy October morning as he roosted among the fall foliage.
While these colorful maples provide good cover for part of the year, Ward and June will be forced to seek winter roosts in parts of their territory that are dominated by evergreen trees. One of the great challenges for those who are trying to preserve suburban land for wildlife is to strike a balance between the dryer highland areas that are dominated by evergreens and the wetlands that are dominated by deciduous trees. Federal building restrictions on wetland areas make this land very affordable, while a residential building boom has driven prices for the dryer highland areas to astronomical levels. Ward and June nest in a transition area that contains a mixture of evergreens and deciduous trees.
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