New active osprey nest spied atop power pole at Hilltop Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

New active osprey nest spied atop power pole at Hilltop Steamboat

New osprey nest: like two birds on a wire

Photographer Robert Kinney spied a previously un-reported osprey nest high atop a federal power pole near the Hilltop Steamboat resort property between downtown Steamboat and the ski area. In this image, the male has just returned to the nest.

Hopes for a second brood of osprey chicks on the nest just off the Yampa River Trail opposite the Yampa River Botanic Park continue to dim, but there is a new nest occupied by the fish-hunting raptors not far from the first.

Ironically, the new nest site, high atop a giant steel power pole at the Steamboat Hilltop vacation club, is virtually in sight of the Botanic Park.

Park co-founder Bob Enever reached out  to Steamboat Today July 17  to say the female osprey there, who has been devoted to sitting on her nest for many weeks, was nowhere to be seen July 16 after a couple of days when she got up to fly from the nest, then return. Enever is concerned that hope the birds might have started a second family after the first failed to hatch seems less likely.

"She's had a very tough time; she appeared to start sitting on eggs about the middle of May, and normal term for those eggs would have been the second half of June," Enever wrote in an email. “We are now at July 17, so she has been sitting on eggs for two months. There are reports that if a first clutch of eggs fail, ospreys will start all over with new eggs, and until the last few days, we thought that might have happened here. Perhaps our summers in the mountains are too short for that."

In 2016, the first osprey couple produced three chicks that fledged and flew off on their own for the autumn migration.

But there's more encouraging news coming from the Hilltop nest that overlooks U.S. 40 from a lofty perch.

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Vacation owner Robert Kinney contacted Steamboat Today to share photographs of the birds. In fact, he was so excited to see them out his window that he rushed to Wal-Mart to acquire a camera with a telephoto lens to photograph them with. He captured pictures of the female, just visible sitting on her nest atop the pole, and another, clearer shot of the male seconds after it returned to the nest.

"The last (photograph) I took was the male leaving, and I watched him soaring down the valley," Kinney wrote in the email.

The nesting site is on a power pole owned by the Western Area Power Administration, a power marketing and transmitting agency under the U.S. Department of Energy. The pole is one in a string of many power poles that run across North Park on the east side of the Park Range and cross Buffalo Pass before entering Steamboat, where they meet the Yampa River and march across the flank of Emerald Mountain.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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