Here at Gathering Waters we love to hear the stories of amazing things that Wisconsin’s land trusts do for their communities. That is, after all, a huge part of why we do what we do. Last fall, Caledonia Conservancy (one of our member land trusts), hosted their second annual “Community Daze”, where dozens of youngsters and adults came out to the King’s Corner property in Caledonia to enjoy a wide array of activities including a Birds of Prey display by Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, which Eric Schumann (our board Treasurer and the Past President of Caledonia Conservancy) and his wife Jane, arranged for the event. One boy named Nathan was particularly enthralled by the owls at the event, this is his story.
Nathan arrived at the King’s corner property excited to do some nature crafts and learn about the wildlife in the area. He and his sister started off the day by making pine cone bird feeders, decorating a birdhouse, and visiting a skunk, a lemur and a porcupine. Next, Nathan decided to check out the Birds of Prey display and learn about the Barred Owl.
Nathan was awestruck by the creature and amazed to learn that one could potentially be found in his own backyard. He absorbed all the information he could about this mysterious bird including how to make a nesting box. When Nathan returned home, he promptly told his parents that he wanted to build one so they could attract an owl to their home. A few hours and one trip to Menards later, Nathan and his father had built the box and placed it in their backyard.
Nathan watched until sunset that night and has since asked his mother for night vision goggles since he learned that the owl will most likely come “really late. like 10:00 pm”.
Every night, Nathan excitedly looked out to the nesting box to check if an owl had decided to call it home, but come Christmas still no owl appeared. His family kept expecting his interest to fade as no owl had showed up, but he kept to it and continued to do research on what type of owl would most likely use the box.
Then on January 4th, 2014, Nathan peered out his kitchen window to find a gray phase Eastern Screech Owl perched in the hole. Nathan’s owl had finally arrived! Although the cold weather kept him indoors, Nathan grabbed binoculars and watched the owl settle in.
In Nathan’s research, he found out that female owls selects their mate by the abundance of food and the quality of the nesting shelter, so Nathan is sure that there will be a female joining his owl. Nathan also learned a lesson about symbiotic relationships from his research, since he found out that Easter Screech Owls often have a blind snake in their nesting boxes. Nate told his mom and dad “just like us; a mom, a dad, babies and a helper friend in a house.”
“Just like us; what a valuable concept for children to have in regard to wildlife” his mom stated in a letter to Caledonia Conservancy thanking them for hosting the inspiring event.
Additionally, Nathan recently told his Mom he wanted to be a scientist and she is sure this owl experience has fostered that.
“Perhaps we will look into getting one of those night cameras as it looks like the ‘Year of the owl’ will continue.” Wrote his mother in the letter. “Thank you Caledonia Conservancy so much for sparking this interest. You have started something special.”