A great horned owl that's set up housekeeping in a bald eagle's nest in eastern Oklahoma has faced some serious challenges this week.
On February 18, 2013, the female owl sat through a brief but powerful hail storm. She never moved from her spot while incubating and protecting her egg. The sun came out a few minutes later and she appeared to be unhurt.
Then on February 20, 2013, she endured hours of heavy snowfall as a winter storm brought several inches of frozen precipitation to much of the state.
As part of a longstanding program to study birds of prey, the Sutton Avian Research Center has placed cameras on the nest, which is near Vian, Oklahoma.
At times the cameras showed that the snow completely covered her, making her difficult to see. She would shake her head to clear the snow from it, only to have the snow coat it again in just a few minutes.
The cameras are solar powered, so the snow and the lack of sunlight could knock them off line at any time. They will power back up after sunlight recharges the system.
The cameras have offered a fascinating look into a part of nature most people would never see. The bald eagles that built the nest abandoned their egg, probably because of the presence of other bald eagles in the area.
In early February, 2013, the great horned owl began incubating the eagle egg, and eventually laid two of her own.
On the night of February 13, 2013, the bald eagle egg and one of the owl eggs disappeared. The researchers at the Sutton Avian Research Center say a predator could have gotten them or they could have broken.
Through it all, the female great horned owl has been on the nest almost non-stop. She's being fed by her male mate. If her egg is healthy, it should hatch in mid to late March.