Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A rough neighborhood

For the past two weeks, Lexi has remained in her new digs, in a grove of young white pines on private land along Yellow Breeches Creek, about 3.5 miles from where she spent most of the winter in King's Gap State Park.

Aura Stauffer has been checking her every few days, and although Lexi seems to be switching roost trees every day or so, she is apparently living high on the hog - or the mouse, at least. Aura's collected a lot of pellets, and more often than not, Lexi's been sitting on a mouse that she saved from the previous night's hunting.

But she's obviously not the only owl hunting these woods. The first day we located her there, Feb. 4, we flushed a great horned owl from the pines, and Aura's found fresh great horned pellets, as well as piles of pigeon feathers that may have been left by GHOWs or other large raptors.

Saw-whets are the bottom of the raptor totem pole, and all other Pennsylvania owls, including screech-owls (which weigh twice as much as a saw-whet) may kill and eat them if given the chance. We can only assume that Lexi's careful, and we hope she remains so.

I was a little surprised, given the mild weather last week, that she didn't pull out and begin moving north. The peak spring migration in Pennsylvania seems to be around the beginning of March, although that probably varies from year to year depending on weather and snow cover. We're nearing the latest date that we've ever had a radio-tagged saw-whet remain, so Lexi may be about to set a new record for us.

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