Cardinals in our neighborhood are singing spring songs. They’re choosing prominent perches high in leafless trees to begin courtship advertising, the birds gleaming red in our bright sun. This is the sound of change. The birds should crank it up beginning Friday when temperatures rise well above freezing. 

 

Another sign of spring eminent is the paired hooing of Great Horned Owls. The birds are fast approaching nesting season. I’ve heard both owls of what I assume is a pair three times in the past two weeks. They are close enough to the house to be heard through closed windows. (It helps to be awake for the middle-of-the-night serenade.) These owls, by the way, nest early so there is time for the chicks to fully mature with sound hunting skills before next winter arrives. Owl mortality is high in the first year. Poor hunters don’t survive.

 

 

These are Great Horned Owl pellets, the three furry masses lower right. The bones of prey eaten are not digestable. The owl's digestive system wraps the bones in a slurry of prey fur. The bird then coughs the pellets out. The coin is a quarter. If you know rodent anatomy you can identify mammal species from these remains.