BBC and PBS are co-producing a three hour wildlife special with host to be aired next February on PBS Television.
I heard through my good friend Jeff Hogan they were looking to follow a great gray owl family through the nesting season. I offered my two nests and filming soon began.
April 7 Nest is empty with a little snow inside. I was about to leave, but decided to give a hoot first and was surprised when the female called from nearby. Male then called from far below.
April 21 I hiked up to the nest and found the female sitting on eggs.
May 6 Saw 2 eggs through an opening in the snag. (Started filming for PBS special)
May 9-10 Snowing lightly. Observed the female turning the eggs.
May 16 Was passing by the nest area when I found the rain had turned to snow. I packed my gear and hustled up to the nest hoping the snow would continue long enough for me to get some photos. While there I also shot some video. The male brought in a gopher at 7:40-7:48 and again at 8:40 AM When I left at 10:30 it was still snowing. (I know at least one chick has hatched).
May 21 Filming at the nest all morning. The female fed two chicks with food already in the nest. Didn't see the male.
May 22 Filmed three feedings this morning. 7:30, 7:50 and 8:40. Fresh bear scat just north of the nest.
May 23 Back at the nest this morning. Feedings at 8:30 and 8:50.
May 24 No feedings this morning. Male did fly in but only hooted from the north. Female fed the chicks with food already in the nest. A goshawk buzzed it.
May 25 At the nest all morning. Didn't see any feedings. Female left the nest to cough her pellet and bathe at 10AM. Returned at 10:30. Raining
May 26 Once again didn't see any feedings. Female left the nest at 10AM, back at 10:25. Saw all three chicks.
May 27 Female was already feeding chicks when we arrived. Male brought in a gopher at 9:25AM
June 1 Was at the nest without the camera crew. Feedings were at 6:24, 6:46, 7:17, 7:55 and again at 8:25. Female left the nest at 9:24. Back at 9:44.
June 5 Spent the morning at the nest. No feedings but the female flew in to preen the chicks. All three look good, but the third is noticeably smaller.
June 6 Arrived to continue filming at 6:15am. For the first 40 minutes we saw only two chicks. Even after the female flew in and began preening we were unable to spot the third chick.
I definitely had a tight feeling in my chest. From the time the third chick hatches, his chances for survival is less than 20% Still, he seemed strong the day before.
At 7AM the female flew off to perch just above and Jeff exclaimed, "I see the third chick!"
Soon after, the male flew in with a gopher. The female fed it to the middle chick. That was it for feedings.
June 7 Female sitting off the nest when we arrived. At 7:05 the male flew in by-passing the female and feeding the middle chick. No more feedings.
June 8 No feedings this morning. I went for a look around and found more than a dozen bear scats. In the evening we filmed four feedings.
June 9 The PBS host and crew arrived to film interviews at the nest. Kirk, the host is a great guy, but the crew assigned for the day were less than professional. I was glad when we finished.
June 10 Back at he nest with the BBC host. Much better crew today.