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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A message from the Valmont Station engineer

Dave Madonna, the Valmont Station engineer who oversees the owl cam program, sent the following to a bird cam discussion group in response to concerns expressed about the nest this year. Thanks to Gail B for posting it to Cobirds:
Great to hear from you. It's obviously not looking
good for the Valmont great horned owl nest. I
haven't been able to determine if this female is
"Snowflake" or a different female. I was a bit
worried last season about how long Snowflake was
leaving the eggs uncovered in cold weather and both
eggs ended up hatching with no problems. This season
looks like a different story. An adult owl was
electrocuted in our substation here at the plant last
June. I suspect it may have been Snowflake and she
has been replaced by a young female. I've noticed
several peculiarities with the female this season.
Early on, she seemed fidgety (technical birding term)
in the nest and she dug the deepest scrape I have
seen. My general impression has been that this is a
young and inexperienced female. I don't know why
she is abandoning the eggs. The male, Dan, is
roosting in a spruce tree near the nest and appears to
be in good health. He was bringing a continuous
supply of prey to the nest up until Saturday night
when the female bailed out. I wondered if the
abnormally high snowfall here this winter may have had
some effect, but the owls seem to be bringing plenty
of prey into the nest box. I'm guessing that this
young female just isn't quite ready to sit for 30 plus
days on eggs yet. Hard to blame her, although it is
sad to see those eggs sitting there exposed to the

Thanks for your continuing interest in the Valmont owl
cam. I'm keeping a close watch here and will let you
know if I see anything of interest. I definitely will
be watching both adult owls to verify they are

Dave Madonna
Sr Plant Engineer
Valmont Station, Xcel Energy

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Any news on the Great Horned Owl nest at Valmont Station?

Our wildlife forum has followed the cam there for years and this year we cannot seem to gather any information.

Any news would be appreciated!

Grand Island, NY