Yellowstone Reports

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First nest log

One nest gone, two to go.
by Dan Hartman

June 18, 2016

The chicks have fledged and left the nest area, so I can now post the log on my first nest.  I hope you enjoy it!

April 7     We were heading for Cody at dusk when I spotted a great gray hunting in the shadows 50 yards above the highway.  We backed off and watched as he flew from one aspen to another scanning the ground for prey.  Finally, just before dark, he dropped to the ground and held a vole in his beak.  Now the big question, will he eat it or carry it off to the female.  He did the latter and I ran after him to see where he flew.  Well, I lost him in the trees, but from above came the begging sounds of the female owl.

Because of the darkness and the two feet of soft snow, I didn't try for the nest at that time.

April 21  Cindy and I returned to the area where I'd last seen the great gray.  We climbed into the dense timber over numerous dead fall to gain an open grassy level bench.  There high in a spruce, I spotted a goshawk nest.  And sticking out on our side was the tail of a great gray owl.

We had the nest!

May 13  Was at the nest when the male brought in a gopher at 5:45 PM  When she raised up to receive the food, we saw two white chicks.  They appeared to be 10-14 days old.

May 21  Male was seen hunting near the road.  Brought in a gopher at 7:15PM.  Female fed large chick.  Small chick calling for food when I left.

May 26  Female flew off the nest at 7:30PM.  Three chicks were seen for the first time!  All were gray.

May 27  Female sitting 50 yards upslope.  Three chicks sitting in the nest looking well fed.  Male hunting down below.

May 31  Only two chicks in nest.  Female sitting 75 yards upslope.  Finally located the fledged chick some 15 feet up a leaner 30 yards down slope.  A red-tailed hawk buzzed the nest and the female flew in to chase it off.  Before I left, a chick branched out of the nest to perch 3 feet away.

June 2  Lage chick had traveled to perch up a leaner east of the nest.  Other two chicks still in nest.

June 3  My 38th anniversary.  When Jeff and I (Jeff is filming the chicks for the BBC) arrived at the nest area at 6:30AM, I spotted a large grizzly up in the aspens.  Since he was blocking our way into the nest area, we watched him graze for 15 minutes when he moved up slope towards the nest.  We waited an hour or so before we headed on up.  Bear scats were lying here and there and logs were rolled right under the nest tree.  The two younger chicks were still in the nest.  The older one hadn't moved much.  We left around midday, then returned at 5PM  A second chick had fledged and was perched on a leaner just west of the nest.

Around 6PM, the goshawk attacked the female owl and knocked her to the ground.  She sat there for a bit before flying off.  A half hour later she bought in food and fed one of the chicks, so I guess she is alright.  I climbed upslope and found 10 downy feather where she hit the ground.

What a day!

June 4  Two young moose in the aspens below.  All three chicks were out of the nest when we arrived.  One sitting on a log a foot off the ground.  The female was flying back and forth through the trees keeping an eye on the chicks.

June 6  Watched all three chicks being fed.  Once the male and female arrived at the same time and each fed a chick.

June 7  Filmed the male owl hunting in the aspens below the nest.

June 11  Filmed the chicks attempting short flights.  Stumbled into the male sitting on a low perch on our way out.

June 14  Found the male hunting in the valley far below the nest.  He soon moved up to hunt in the aspens nearer the nest area.  At the nest site we found the female perched on a low branch.  she soon dropped to the ground and caught a gopher which she carried up to another low perch and swallowed the gopher whole.  Heard, then found the two older chicks far upslope.  The third chick chirped from somewhere downslope but we couldn't find him.

The goshawks appears to have abandoned their nest.

Well, I didn't really spend a lot of time at this nest, but it seems I was there for the exciting stuff.  The appearence of the grizzly and the attack of the goshawk on the female owl.

Bottom line!  The nest was a huge success!  Three fledged chicks!


View slide show

Hunting Male

Three Chicks !!!


Close To Fledging

Look Who's Here !!!

Big Griz

Carrying A Jumping Mouse

Chick On The Ground

Scene Of The Goshawk Attack

Another Fledged Chick

Moose In The Aspens

Just Another Perch

Hovering In The Aspens

Hunting In The Rain