Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Wednesday May 15 2013

It's been a dismal year for local Ravens and raptors in the reproduction department.

This hawk nest sitting atop a Snake River Birds of Prey 'badlands' hill is typical of our area this year. It's a fine nest (though one wonders how a hawk can defend such a nest against, say, a coyote) with a fine view - fine scenery and a fine sweeping view of prey: there ain't any.

Four great horned owl territories and 2 red-tailed hawk territories on our 2 creek are empty this year - the birds didn't even try. (The great horned owls choose their nests first, the red-tails have second choice, and the Ravens get to choose last from what's left.)

Fortunately the golden eagles down the creek successfully hatched at least one young, the top of whose fuzzy white head I saw a few days ago.

My theory is there are plenty of jackrabbits around - the main prey of golden eagles, but our cold winter with the week-long -8°F nights and months below freezing froze the little varmints - mice and voles - that nest in burrows just under the ground and that the hawks and owls normally eat. Then again, it's already been so dry, and nothing is growing, that maybe the varmints had nothing to eat themselves.

Two pairs of Ravens tried nesting this year. Both failed. Under the nest up one creek I found the remains of a Raven shell.

The nest up the other creek - on which a Raven was hunkered down quietly just last week - is empty now. There should be enough Raven food around - Ravens eat just about anything - so why they failed in nesting also, other than egg predation, is a mystery.


  1. That's sad. Hopefully, there will be more nesting in the future.

  2. How sad that so many raptor nests are empty in your area. A pair of golden eagles usually nest in the cliffs near here. We've seen them circling but they don't seem to be using any of the nests we know of. We had some late spring rain, so I think the raptor prey should have enough to eat around here.

  3. We have a ton of raptors in Colorado this spring. We have a nest with two baby Red-Tails across the road from us. I spotted a peregrine hunting when I was riding on Saturday. And we've seen a couple of balds. Plus, blue herons, cormorants, great horned owls (fighting on top of Target of all places), mountain lion sign and coyotes. Finally, a spring with some moisture.

  4. This is a sad post. I'm glad you didn't have Jose looking towards the empty nests. That would have been too much for my little sad heart.

  5. Rough times for birds. Will be interesting to see what the banding #s come to this fall.

  6. Sad situation indeed. This weather has been freakish, so your theory could well be right. My hope is the birds have found better hunting grounds elsewhere and are nesting just fine in richer territory.

  7. What a sad state of affairs! But seriously, with that cold weather, is anybody really in the mood?

  8. I am happy to tell you that the Ravens here are thriving. There were 4 babies in the nest as compared to 2 last year, neither of which survived. This year, all 4 are doing well, they left the nest about a week ago and are hanging around demanding food from their busy parents. Here is a link to a video of them that I put on you tube- I can get within 15 feet of them.
    (I mistyped the title, it should say May 30, not May 3 )