Yes, this was most definitely a Osprey nest! A much loved Osprey nest, with an explore.org live cam, located near the Owl Research Institute in Charlo, Montana. The nesting Osprey were even named after this location: Charlotte and Charlie. The pair successfully raised one chick last season while thousands of eyes watched the magic of this event unfold.
A couple months ago, however, cam watchers alerted us to new, nightly activity at the platform nest. Much too early in the season for Osprey to be around, these raptors are definitely not Charlotte and Charlie! Great Horned Owls are among the earliest of nesters and get their pick of available real estate.
As the weeks have passed, it seems that this Great Horned pair is settling in - viewers have captured incredible photos and videos of feeding, vocalizations, even mating, as the pair make nightly visits. We appreciate the highlights viewers send in - the explore.org community is much better at keeping owl hours than I am! If the Great Horned Owls do in fact nest here, it won't be the first time - a pair has nested here prior to Charlotte and Charlie.
So what will happen to the Osprey if they return to find an already occupied nest? They'll simply have choose a new location. While this nest is ideally situated on the bank of a small pond, there is another platform nest very similar to this one and very close by. It would seems probable that they might give this other one a go. But, of course, it's all speculation at this point: we will have to wait and see.
Here at the Owl Research Institute, we couldn't stay informed and up to date on all the nest activity without the help of the watchful and knowledgeable explore.org community. They are definitely Looking our for Owls! We appreciate them so much.
Check out the live cam here: