Spring storms…

It has been a stormy spring in southern Alberta this year… in so, so many ways. Winter seemed to have a death grip on spring, and it has really only been the past couple of weeks that spring seems to have come back up off the mat and regained the upper hand…

I was forced to ship my camera and one of my favorite lenses to Nikon Canada after the pair made an unauthorized exit from the cab of my truck onto the driveway the night of Feb 28th, as I returned from Banff and the Wild Flour Bakery after hanging my images there for the month of March. Looking at the lens rolling down the driveway while the body, and part of the lens, were still laying outside the truck, I knew I was in trouble… I actually felt ill. Anyways, I finally got it all back exactly 2 months later, feeling like I had some serious lost time to make up for.

Borrowing a surrogate camera body from my father, I found this nest just south of Calgary the first week of April, and, as it was almost directly on my way to and from work, kept a close eye on it week to week, watching for signs of young ones… Mom was always there regardless of the weather, dad a little less reliable. He was a little more reclusive and nervous… allowing me to get close enough for decent images only twice. I think he actually got to know the sound of my truck, ’cause after our first couple of encounters, he would leave for a new tree as soon as I slowed down anywhere near him.

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Dad, on watch… (Click to enlarge)

As I said earlier, April and May were stormy months in this part of the country – almost without fail, the work week would be warm(ish) and dry, while the weekends invariably held snow flurries or worse. Again, mom was always there, even with several inches of snow piling up around, and on, her, but still, no little ones.

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More snow… (Click to enlarge)

And then, on the 7th of May, there they were… twins, eyes looking out at their new world, mom keeping a close eye on them, and me. Having checked the nest just 3 days before, I am assuming they arrived either on the 5th or 6th. Mom tolerated me very well over he next couple of weeks – Often hardly even opening her eyes while I shot from a distance. Then, just last week, a surprise! A third little one – finally visible only because mom had been pushed out of the nest because of the overcrowding issue! Mom and dad had their hands full now…

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The family (Click to enlarge)

On taking a quick drive by yesterday, I was amazed that somehow I managed to miss the nest as I drove by. I turned around and slowed down even more, wondering how I missed it. And then I saw why – The nest was gone, completely. There instead was one lonely owlet, crouched down on one of the limbs that used to support the back half of the nest… Mom was nowhere to be found, and the other two owlets were missing as well. I was crushed… I can only assume that the violent thunder storms that rolled thru the area on Sunday afternoon are to blame. I didn’t dare explore the area under the nest for fear of displacing hidden young ones, or worse, getting the remaining one worked up enough that maybe it would take a tumble as well. I left the nest wondering what would become of the little guy…

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Mom?? (Click to enlarge)

I had to check on him again this morning, hoping to see signs that mom or dad was still in the area, knowing that if they were around and he could stay up high, he had a pretty good chance of making it. I watched for about 10 minutes, hoping mom would show up, but she never did… Knowing I had to get to work, I started the truck and drove to a spot where I could turn around… And there, in the trees 150 m from the nest was an adult, and then the other! Relief… Still no sign of the other 2 youngsters, but hopefully mom and dad can keep an eye on them and keep them safe from the foxes and coyotes long enough that they can eventually make there way back up off the ground a bit.

Nature at work…

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~ by Kerry Statham on May 21, 2014.

2 Responses to “Spring storms…”

  1. Great story and photos to match. Their lives are not easy.

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