Hello Vermont Birders:

I was hiking this morning with my two year old daughter at Mount Philo
State Park in Charlotte, when I noticed a cavity in a white pine snag was
once again occupied by a Barred Owl.  I first noticed the/a Barred Owl pair
using the nest site two springs ago but the cavity was usurped by a Gray
Squirrel last year. The bird today appeared to be in an incubating position
(or more likely brooding given the date) so I feel pretty confident it was
not simply a roost site. I could be wrong.

I returned this afternoon with Molly and her five year old sister, Rita.
Rita is old enough to operate binoculars and it was quite a thrill to see
her face light up when she found the cavity in her bins.

This nest site seems ideal for sharing. There is a steady dose of hikers
and dog walkers parading by it every day so as long as people stay on the
road and don't linger, get loud, or use flash, I am guessing transient
observers will be tolerated. Getting off the road to get closer to the nest
tree diminishes the viewing and would require going down a steep slope so I
am trusting that nobody will be doing that.

As you start up the road (not trail) from the parking area, about 1/2 way
up Mount Philo, the road splits. Stay to the right on the upper road, which
wraps around the mountain on the west and south sides. As you get closer to
the summit, utility lines cross the road. Approximately 50 meters beyond
the wooden power pole on the right, there is a conspicuous sawed-off stump
on the right (downslope side) edge of the road. The cavity is in a white
pine snag, which forks at the top, approximately 50 feet off the road,
directly behind this stump as you are looking downhill. In order to see
into the cavity however, you need to continue up the road another 50 feet
or more and look back at eye level or slightly above eye level. I uploaded
an image in my eBird report so you can get a sense of what you are looking

I am confident the outstanding Vermont birding community will act

Another interesting natural history encounter on our hike was witnessing a
chipmunk attack, kill, and drag off a garter snake that was approximately
twice the length of the chipmunk (including the chipmunk's tail). That was
a first for me and prompted Rita to state: "Boy, I sure am glad I'm not
that garter snake!"

Good birding,

Eric Hynes
Burlington, VT
Field Guides Birding Tours