by Carl Strang
This year’s great horned owl nest search was the most intimidating I have done. There are 344 acres in the area I monitor, the portion of St. James Farm Forest Preserve that is north of Butterfield Road. A large portion of that acreage is forested, and it’s an old forest with many large trees that might harbor an owl nest. Furthermore, despite excellent restoration of the forest, a significant portion still has a difficult-to-negotiate understory dense with thorny barberries and roses mixed with way-blocking honeysuckles. Over a two-week period I went through the preserve, noting locations of candidate tree cavities and open tree tops.
After that initial survey, I decided to dig out my clunky old GPS unit and determine the latitude-longitude locations of all the candidate trees, while also mapping the survey routes I follow in routine monitoring work.
I was a little embarrassed by my failure to re-find 3 candidates from the descriptions in my notes. I ended up with 23 trees, and that turned out to be enough, as I saw this in one of them:
I realized that I was fortunate that this was a sunny day, and the additional ambient light made the difference. Now I look forward to following the progress of this nest. The eggs should have hatched by now.