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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Have your vole and eat it, too

The Valmont Great Horned Owls are seemingly doing well- I surmise by last night's activity that the female is being kept well-fed by the male. He delivered a plump vole at 8:37 last night, and she didn't just gulp it down right away. Instead, she saved it for most of the night, not eating it until dawn was lighting up the sky at about 6 am. She takes short breaks throughout the night, maybe to sit out on the perch or maybe to stretch her wings a little, but none seem to exceed an hour. Last year, she would leave for hours on end, even in bitterly cold weather, and the first clutch failed. After the eggs were removed, however, she laid more and pulled off a successful, if not late batch of chicks. Perhaps with a year of experience under her belt everything is on track this year.
Not all of the local Great Horneds are on eggs yet, though. I was at the local Wild Bird Center today, and ran into Wendy Stuart, an outstanding bird photographer who has been watching her favorite pair at Walden Ponds Wildlife Habitat in Boulder all spring. The female there is staying near the nest but not incubating yet. Guess there's room for variability in this area depending on the owl in question- Wendy says this pair has laid eggs in March every year she has studied them, this being the fifth.

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