owltalk 2000


16 April 2000


The second round of owl surveys was completed on 10 April, 2000. For those unfamiliar with the routine, each spring I survey five routes during three time blocks (15-31 March, 1-14 April, and 15 to 30 April). Survey protocol includes 3 minute listening stations at 0.5 mile intervals. Surveys are not conducted in winds exceeding 10 mph, nor when moderate or heavy precipitation is soaking, or coating the earth.


Weather patterns that emerged in mid-March (bullying low pressure systems) have persisted, and the sigh of relief you may have heard was me, once the 1 - 14 April surveys were completed. Now, if only the owls would cooperate. Then again, data are data. Five boreal, 11 saw-whets, 16 barreds, 3 great grays, 2 long-eareds, and 1 great-horned owl were detected during 163.5 miles of surveys. Two of the boreals were newly located, while the remaining three were detected during earlier surveys.


Since the halcyon days of early- and mid-March, there has been a frustrating silence in the North Woods. For the third year in a row, boreal owl numbers have flat-lined, and if I end up with 15 males, I will consider myself, and the owls fortunate. After turning up their volume on the night, saw-whet owls, have become reluctant singers, although the occurrence of nesting pairs may account for some of that silence. Barreds simply need to lighten-up - it seems like they are always caterwauling. Great grays are more active and more visible this year, yet their numbers in the Arrowhead remain a nocturnal enigma. Long-eareds toy with me every spring, but never in numbers that cause me to shift my focus.


Were it not for the auroras, and the stars, and the moon, and the weather, and the wolves, and the martens, and the fishers, and the weasels, and the fox, and the voles, and the hares, and the merlins, and the buntings, and the chickadees, and the robins, and the air, and the calm, and the metamorphosis of the earth from winter into summer, one would find this place kind-of boring.


W.H. Lane