8 April, 2001
Slowly, there are signs that winter has surrendered. Rain falls instead of snow, and amorphous pockets of fog lay low to the ground, consuming all that is familiar. The snow pack has eroded under the warmth and feeds the swollen lowlands and streams, nourishing them with clean, cold water. Algae have turned a bright green under the unhindered rays of the sun. As much as I hate to admit it, It is time to put my skis away from their "use me" position in my kitchen.
The owls seem to be getting the hint. I have heard a few more boreals, even was serenaded by the song of a northern hawk owl, but those amount to baby steps in an otherwise quiet spring.
My first round of surveys was completed on 30 March. One boreal, five barreds, and three saw-whets were detected during approximately 200 km of surveys. Two additional boreals were heard outside of surveys, as were two great-horneds, one barred, and two saw-whets. My ears have been of little use thus far.
The boreal that kept me company for 9 days is gone, his chalky mutes the only reminder of his visit. Two great grays have taken up a hunting residence along the Sawbill Trail, but soon, they will move towards the horizon that nourishes the allure of the North Woods. The rain will send the voles and mice on hurried searches for shelter, and on their journey, they will feel the needle sharp talons attached to the owls that hear all and see all. The great grays will survive in a year when so many didn't.
And now, it is simply a matter of biding my time to see what happens. Will the silence continue or will the night explode in songs and calls? Patience is 99% of the battle here in the northern Minnesota night, and I can think of no better place to exercise my patience.