A friend found a barred owl (Strix varia), dead, in the woods. After a few months in contact with the busy soil critters, the bones were clean. I am fascinated by the double-domed shape of the cranium.
It's interesting to compare it to the skull in the owl sketch page I posted on my "classes" page. I think that one's a great horned owl. This one is smaller, a bit more delicate, with a shorter bill. Also, the frontal bone (just above the beak) of the barred owl is much less swollen-looking than that of the great horned/great gray owl.
I caught myself thinking this morning, In just a month, we'll be hearing varied thrushes… in just two months, we might be starting to work the soil in the garden beds… in just three months, the little lilies will be blooming… It's that time of year when I struggle to appreciate what's here rather than just longing for what's coming.
So the compromise is to look at seed capsules and buds. Rusty menziesia is a good example; its handsome little capsules are gaping wide this time of year, its seeds long gone, and the buds are sharp and tight and just touched with rusty color. They're late-openers around here, though–it won't be until long after the blueberry bells are out that these buds will open.