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Photo by Kurt Lindsay.

Photo by Kurt Lindsay.

Chat Live With Owl Research Institute

Last year at this time, the female Great Gray Owl was already incubating eggs in her beautiful snag nest. This year, however, she and her mate have been spotted at the nest just a handful of times. To complicate matters, a Great Horned Owl pair have shown an interest in the nest, and continue to make their presence known with regular hooting in the background. It’s been a complicated season already and no one is even on the nest yet!

These events have raised questions about territorial disputes, climate change, habitat availability, and many more.

Join us tomorrow, April 10th at 12:00 pm PT / 1 pm MT for a live Q&A with Owl Research Institute about this season’s happenings on our live owl nests. If you have a question for Denver Holt, post it here in the comments. The live chat will take place on our Great Gray Owl Cam.

  • Mairzedotes

    Thank you DRI and Explore. Would love for DH to address the status of GHOW and GGOW on endangered species list and what law/regulation governs the interaction with the owls/nests such as Banding, Bood Testing, feather and egg collection!

  • Ginger Martin

    Thank you for making your vast knowledge of the owl available to us.
    Last season, we watched Ospreys on the Charlo nest but the owls have certainly made their presence known on that nest as of late. My understanding is that the Charlo nest had originally been an owl nest until the Osprey took over. Do you think the owls have taken their nest back or do you suppose we could see the Ospreys back on there again this year?

  • Loraine Kacynski

    GGO’s do they have any defense against the GHO’s? I am concerned the GGO’s may nest & GHO’s will come down on her back & kill her. Or her owlets.

  • Loraine Kacynski

    Have you any knowledge of the 3 young that survived from this nest last year?

  • Loraine Kacynski

    When will the GGO’s decide to give up on laying eggs?

  • Jem

    Is there fresh nesting material on this nest? If so, which owl pair put it there? Thank you.

  • Bellaka

    Could you please tell us about the tree? What kind is it? Does it have termites, how wide is it at the top, and how tall is the remaining tree? Zoomed in the GGO fits perfectly in the nest area but last night with the camera view farther away the owl sitting on the tree near the top looked quite small. Thanks so much Denver! Fascinating nest!

  • Lynne Elkins

    Thank you so much for chatting with us!! How do the open nest owls teach the owlets to stay away from the edges so they do not fall out?

    • Chippie

      They don’t. It must be instinctual. As the owlets get older they venture closer to the edges of the nest. Once in a while I’m sure one does fall out but their feathers really cushion the fall. I’ve watched a number of GHO nests and none of the owlets fell out.

      • Lynne Elkins

        Thank you!

    • Cg

      How many feet high is this nest at Two Harbors? Thanks!

      • CamOp Pan

        Two Harbor nest is an eagle nest. One of the IWS mods should be able to answer your question at the Two Harbor/West End chat area.

  • Lynne Elkins

    Do the GGO and GHO prefer “OLD” nests or nests that they prepare and shape themselves. What about a platform nest partially created by their human friends?

    • Phillip Andrews

      Most owls like the GGO and GHO will only use nests built by other birds and will not build their own. For these two species, these nests are typically made by other raptors, ravens, or similar. Artificial platforms have proven very successful for GGOs, in some literature even more successful than natural crevices or snags…but I am not sure about GHOs.

      • Lynne Elkins

        Thanks, and I just read most of the answer on the GGO page and wished I would have read that first…..but anyway, thank you for answering!!

        • Mairzedotes

          good question regardless :)

  • Lynne Elkins

    Do GGO ever attack any Osprey or Eagle nests to take the young for food? (I know GHO do, witnessed it on a cam last season)?

  • ladybarber61

    Do you know about DRI GHOS. 2 females fighting over 2 owlets. Sienna abandoned her eggs and tried taking over owlets of Jina. Where they are at there is no place to climb or branch. It’s a little skinny ledge.Odd situation all around. Would like your opinion why these 2 nested together? Never would have thought I would see this as territorial as they are.

  • Connie Driggersbundystewart

    Forgive me for sharing this with you, only owl people would understand:I am seventy years old and have but one wish before I cross that bridge “To plant my face into the back of the female owls’ head, it has to be the softest spot on earth. I am not crazy, just had to share.Also the women who wrote H is for Hawlk felt the same way about GossHawlks.Thanks for reading.Please come home soon Mom and Dad.Thank you Denver.

    • Deborah-TX (2014)

      Hello Connie. Many years ago I discovered They are very soft and darned heavy for what looks so very fluffy!

    • Chippie

      Last year I so wanted to gently place my hands on either side of the female GGO and have my hands softly sink down into her feathers!

    • Mairzedotes

      i feel you :)

    • Anna Speranza

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts! It would be a much better world if people had got some good wishes like yours :)

  • Kate

    How many eggs do owls usually lay, and how many do they tend to be able to rear, granting predators and natural catastrophes?

  • Deborah-TX (2014)

    Long eared owl nest question. The camera has returned to the location of the 2015 nest but it looks like that nest collapsed. Is there a newer nest site nearby?

  • Deborah-TX (2014)

    Are the 2 long eared owls recently seen on camera a mated pair or are they bachelors?

  • Deborah-TX (2014)

    How many Great grey owls are in your survey area Denver?

  • Deborah-TX (2014)

    Any sign if the Charlo GHOs nesting near the osprey nest have owlets yet?

  • Chippie

    What do you make of the 2 female and 1 male GHOs on the DRI cam in Nevada? Have you ever heard of something like this happening before?

  • Deborah-TX (2014)

    There is a raptor rehab center nearby. The local wildlife photography club invited them as speakers and they brought along some of the birds like Bailey the osprey that could not be released back into the wild. 2 eastern screech owls (boy are they tiny), a red shouldered hawk, a barn owl, a Mississippi kite, a peregrine, a red tailed hawk, and a barred owl. The GHO did not make the trip. Not all the birds were willing to move on to a gauntlet worn by someone they didn’t know but the screech owl and the barred owl were very calm.
    They recently rehabbed a snowy owl that had an injured wing. He was flown back to Minnesota last month so he could be released.

  • SnowBear

    Was wondering if you had a chance to view any of the videos we have sent to ORI that have vocalizations of 3 Great Grays and if you think one could be a female juvie. It sounds like we hear two females and one stays in the cam tree calling when the other one is on the nest tree with the male, which seemed to distract the female on the nest every time, enough that she flew away…. except the last time, when she remained for several hours on the nest tree.

    • https://www.owlresearchinstitute.org ORI Liberty

      Hi Snowbear, do you happen to have a link to one of those videos you could post here?

  • polkadot

    This will be my first time for owl watching !! I am eggscited !!!

    • Mairzedotes

      i guarantee it wont be your last when you see what we have been seeing. little bobbleheads with clown feet swallowing mice whole! and much more!

  • http://lindaphelanlmt.com/ Linda Phelan Thompson

    Is it possible to review what we were hearing around 8:30 tonight, when we were hearing deep hoots we’d not heard before, and we wondered if someone was there, and making these sounds. It also sounded like someone may have been walking around the cam tree.

    • LauraJohnwellnerbarry Wellner


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  • Alex Banfe

    Awesome blog. i like owls too much. Thanks for the info.


  • mosaic_world

    I think ORI made a post that the GHO couple who was usually on the GHO cam nest in the past will not use the nest this year. is this known because that pair has been sighted on a different nest and are they banded? what are usual reasons that an owl pair might abandon a nest one year (which they have used in past years)? does that mean they would never use that nest in the future? thanks!

  • Douglass Swanson

    I’m concerned that this nesting area is not secure, because of what appears to be human interaction, such as fake calls, gunshots, lots of human noise from nearby…would this possibly deter the owls from nesting? Thank you!

    • LauraJohnwellnerbarry Wellner

      yesterday was very bad an possible fake whoos

  • sharon.chafe@gmail.com

    Do you have any idea how last year’s GGO owlets from this tree are doing?

  • MimiMA

    Do you know anything about the GGO owlets hatched last year in this nest?

  • LauraJohnwellnerbarry Wellner

    Can you add another cam facing the cam tree so that we can find out whos been walking over an even HOOing at our GGOs an interfering?

  • Laramie1

    Hello and thank you Liberty, Denver and ORI! What is the date window for the Great Gray pair to nest in this snag? Should we be concerned that they have not nested here yet? Could they be nesting elsewhere or not at all this year?

    Thank you.

  • Anna Speranza

    Sorry for my prosaic question, anyway it’s relevant to the support to the precious ORI activity: what about the Shopping section at the ORI website? I really hope it will come very soon. Thank you in advance.

    • Mairzedotes

      good question! i got my plastic ready :)

  • Ayrhia

    Since you’ve started monitoring GGOW numbers in Montana, have you seen an increase or decrease of them over the years? What is their status currently in Montana?

  • Ayrhia

    Tell us a fun/interesting fact about GGOW’s that you’ve learned while researching them. Is there something to you that makes them stand out versus other species of owl, that we may not have read about?

  • DogMom

    First, Thank-you for the Explore cams! I tune in daily now that I am retired. Do you have any data as to the likelihood of the GGOWs nesting in the same location for multiple years? About how often do adults feed? Do GGOWs need more food than GHOWs?

  • Ayrhia

    How close will GGOW’s and GHOW’s nest in the same territory, or is it atypical to see them so near each other?

  • Ayrhia

    I understand most GGOW’s do not mate until their 3rd year. If a juvenile from other years stays in the area they fledged from, and mom and dad return, would they likely recognize each other and possibly even “hang out” together? Are GGOW’s accepting of their own species?

  • Barbara

    Question: Seems for the most part, owls prefer smaller prey that they can swallow whole, as other birds of prey take larger prey they rip and tear into pieces before they ingest. Even owlets swallow small prey whole at a very young age, compared to young eaglets or osprey that need to be fed food in small pieces. Is this a valid observation, and why the difference. Thank You.

  • Ayrhia

    After their young fledge from the nest, do GGOW pairs stay together if they are to be monogamous, or do they part ways and see what next year brings? Do GGOW’s isolate themselves after raising their young?

  • Sky-blue

    Can you recommend a good audio/video site we can go to where we can listen and compare the various owl calls including male/female/ youngsters/different calls and meaning at various times of the year. I know that some birds’ calls and songs differ depending of the geographic area – is this true with owls?

    • Mairzedotes

      Owl Research Institute has sounds for the owls on their website :)

  • Brenda

    It seems like the pair really want to nest in the snag but it seems like something scares them off at times. Last night they sounded like they were in the can tree or very close to it, then we heard what sounded like someone walking around under the can tree, and when that happened the owls flew off. Could someone be harassing the owls?

  • Deborah-TX (2014)

    Little confusion Chippie. I live in Texas and Bailey is in Florida. I’m the curator at a history museum and not at a wildlife center. With the owl’s and the handlers permission I held and touched the screech owls and the barred owl. Many years ago I met a falconer with 4 GHO owlets (fallen from nest he said) that was letting people handle them at a renaissance fair. I now know that was a very bad idea

  • Deborah-TX (2014)

    How long has this snag been a documented GGO nest?

  • Deborah-TX (2014)

    Last year you mentioned that the Long eared owls were late to nest due to a cold winter. Is that a problem this year too?

  • Liberty Pines Ranch

    Many viewers note the sounds of “hoomans” near the nest. Can you give us any description of the nest area, and its relationship to the surrounding ecosystem as well as surrounding human development?

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