the insensitive owler

okay…okay…enough of that sensitivity shit.  i mean, it wasn’t like i was going to stop ordering the double cheeseburger with bacon basket at culvers.  it was simply a matter of exercising my right as a biologist/human being to show that what sets us apart from the predator and the prey is our ability to empathize.  we can observe and emote, but that doesn’t mean i am going to go out and defibrillate a dying raccoon. 

there.  i feel better now.

tangled brown of summers’ past….

just kidding.  

the coolest thing i have seen in my backyard in a while occurred shortly after the raccoon took his sorry striped tail and sauntered to his demise (please note: owlman’s callous disregard for a dying creature). 

as anyone who has read this or knows me knows, i love my stand of decadent old forest aspen.  half the trees have fallen or been snapped like matchsticks, and it’s kind of a mess…like the boreal forest’s version of male pattern baldness (whimsical aside:  is there a “rogaine for aspen”?), but it is a dynamic feature in the landscape. 

in my time here i have had owls and woodpeckers and marten and squirrels and fisher and a host of other species that utilize the trees for eating or hiding or resting or singing or digesting or observing the dashing biologist below them.    

one cavity tree in particular, with its 5 cavities,  is especially familiar because i can see it from my favorite chair, where i can sit and eat raw cookie dough without having to do a thing.   the pileateds excavated a hole 4 years ago and subsequently, used it to raise their brood.  this winter, they (the species…not necessarily the same birds) used the nest hole for roosting, which meant most evenings right around 1700 (5 pm), the male came in and disappeared down the hole for the night. 

with spring here, breeding is moving to the forefront in the woodpecker community.  there is drumming and calling and courtship galore.  yesterday, with great fanfare, the male pileated arrived with surging hormones and breeding season attitude, and started drumming on a rotten aspen (talk about percussion).  he then moved to the cavity, looked around, poked his head in and disappeared.  immediately, a flicker flew out of the same hole to a nearby branch and started squawking at the pileated, who paid the flicker no nevermind, and went back down the hole for a good night’s sleep.  

30 seconds of intrigue and thereafter, my yard was brown and drab and silent.

after an evening of owling last night,  i too tried to get a good night’s sleep, but once the male saw-whet started in, i was drawn to the aspen yet again.


About borealbilly

i am cursed by nocturnal self-awareness. View all posts by borealbilly

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