Red-tailed Hawks and Great-horned Owls

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Hawk on snag.jpg

Both Red-tailed Hawks and Great-horned Owls frequent our ranch. The Red-tails work the terrain for mice and voles from sunrise to sunset.  I often see them sitting on top of snags or telephone poles along the county road that leads to the ranch.  The Great-horned Owls hunt the same prey in the same area, but from sunset to sunrise.  The majority of the Red-tail population leave Northwest Colorado before the winter sets in, but a few hardy souls stay around throughout the winter.  The Great-horned Owls remain here all year round, but make their presence known only as spring approaches when they begin to hoot back and forth to each other at night.   In the last two weeks, the Red-tailed Hawks have begun showing up everywhere in the county. Yesterday, I counted 7 of them along a 10-mile stretch of the highway.  On our ranch we have a pair of Red-tail already sitting on a nest.   This is the third consecutive year that we have had Red-tails nesting, and the second year they have re-used the same nest. 

gt horned owl.jpg

Great-horned Owls do not build their own nests, but rather take over other large nests, especially Red-tailed Hawk nests. Last year a pair of Great-horned Owls commandeered an old Red-tail nest that was within viewing distance of our house.  From our hot tub deck through my spotting scope, I watched those owls raise and fledge three owlets over the course of several months.  I had hoped that the owls might re-use the nest this year, but three active owlets took a toll on the nest, and they have apparently chosen to nest elsewhere this year.  I still hear them at night when I walk the dog, but, to date, I have been unable to locate their "new" nest. This spring,  I am planning to replace their old nest with a man-made structure of chicken wire, designed to function as a nest, but without falling apart as natural nests do.  I am hoping that will bring them back to rear their young year after year.  While my heart soars whenever a Red-tail flies over the ranch, nothing equals the thrill of spotting or hearing the Great-horned Owl within my ranch territory. 

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This page contains a single entry by Nancy published on April 19, 2009 3:26 PM.

Otterly Amazing! was the previous entry in this blog.

Otterly Amazing! - Part 2 is the next entry in this blog.

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