A pleasantly warm afternoon and signs of a false spring lured us out to clean up some downed tree limbs we have gathered over the past couple of weeks. We were about finished tending two huge bonfires when Rosie started barking at something up in the tree directly overhead. A great horned owl had been staring down at us for the entire time, and seemed unperturbed by our activities. The sight of two large fires and the accompanying smoke should have flushed him out and sent him on his way. We had been dragging limbs from underneath the very tree where he was perched, and he never moved. We sighted another owl as we returned to the house, and are hopeful we have a nesting pair that we can observe through the spring months until their fledglings are able to fly away with them.
I was able to calm Rosie and get her to agree to quit barking at our visitor. She settled down in the leaves and grass where she could keep an eye on him. We worried that we had created such a disturbance the owl might leave. Since this guy seems determined to hang out, it is likely there is a nest nearby and a female sitting on eggs.
This is one of 14 piles of tree limbs we have collected over the past two months. Each day on our walk, we stop and drag up a few limbs into a pile along the route. When the piles are so high they become perilous to reach with more limbs, we burn them and start over. A severe ice/snow storm last September brought down enough tree limbs to keep us busy for some time to come. Ranch recreation!