As winter approaches our local wildlife looks for safe, dry places to take shelter from the cold. Eastern screech-owls use hollow trees, dense foliage and holes in upright structures.
Last year Bill Powers of PixController set up an eastern screech-owl roosting study with five owl boxes in a dry wetland in Westmoreland County. Each box is equipped with a small infrared video camera and small microphone wired back to a server that detects motion and streams video.
You can watch all five owl boxes at PixController's Eastern Screech-Owl webcam page.
When it turned cold last weekend, Bill's cameras detected motion as an owl checked out two of the boxes at dawn on Saturday.
Here's the owl staring up at the infrared camera in Box #1 where he eventually roosted. There's no color because the light is infrared.
Knowing which box to watch, Bill put up a blind on Saturday and took the owl's picture when he emerged at dusk. He's the handsome screech-owl in full color above.
Last night I tuned in at 9:00pm. There were no owls but I found a squirrel in Box #4, rearranging his tail and wrapping it around his body to cover his nose.
Won't he be surprised if an owl shows up this morning!
(photos by Bill Powers and PixController, Inc.)
p.s. If there are no owls when you take a look, come back when it's colder. Bill tells me the owls use the boxes more often when it's 30oF.