Just beneath the owl box, hung 20 feet up the stem of a balsam poplar, the backyard barbecue continued late into the evening. Despite the thwap of badminton birdies and the chirp of human voices, the boreal owl had work to do.
With a vole in its talons, the hand-sized bird perched on a branch outside a wooden box nailed to the tree. After a quick scan of the activity below, the owl bent and grabbed the vole with its beak. It fluttered up, hovered, and slam-dunked the vole through the hole.
The owl then disappeared into the shadows of the spruce forest. Scratching noises came from the nest box as the adult female within tore apart the vole into pieces her hatchlings could swallow.
Over much of their range, boreal owls operate in the dark... read more