By Judy Wink
With 2017’s nesting success of a reliable pair of Great Horned Owls, we are getting ready for the 2018 nesting season. In 2017 the GHOs reared two nestlings to the juvenile “jumper” stage, and hastily relocated the young to the woodlot in the Nostril area of the property. Both young of the year were spotted in that same area as of September 2017…by now they should have “moved on” to find their own territories. The young of the year hang around their neonatal spot until sometime in October and then “move away from home” to greener pastures. The prime breeding adults stay on territory for the next year’s nesting cycle.
Owls use the same nest year after year until it falls apart. They are quite messy with excrement and food remains, so eventually the nest deteriorates. We had to put up an “artificial nest” in 2015 because the original nest fell apart. The nest is a tire on a platform of wood with woodchips as a substrate. I used this type of nest during a research project in Pennsylvania, and they were very successful with GHO nestings.
After the pair of owls eye-balled the “potential nest” for two years, they finally nested in it in 2017. This nesting season (January 2018), the owls will return to the site, providing both are still alive and they consider it a safe nesting site. We plan on having a webcam set-up focusing on the nest so that we can monitor the nesting cycle. It should be interesting! Check our website within the month for additional information.