Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Valmont Nest Failure

We are sorry to announce that the Valmont Great Horned Owl nest in Colorado has most likely failed. Snowflake began laying eggs on February 12, 2013, and incubated them through an unusually cold, snowy spring. Her eggs should have begun hatching around March 21, but we have seen no signs of hatch so far. She will most likely continue to sit on her eggs for another week or two before ceasing incubation altogether.

Like the Fort St. Vrain nest, this nest has a mixed history. The Valmont nest failed in 2010 when incubation was disrupted by a territorial battle. In 2009, another cold, snowy spring, Snowflake stopped incubating following a massive snowstorm. The nest also failed in 2007 following heavy snow, although the owls reclutched and hatched young later in April. We don't know for sure that the nest failed because of cold weather, but we've seen it happen here before.

The lives of wild birds are filled with challenges: weather, territorial battles, predators, and food supply all play a role in the success or failure of any given nest. Although Snowflake diligently incubated her eggs, it
appears there won't be any young at the Valmont nest this year. We will post if the owls reclutch.