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The Potted Owl’s remaining egg likely not viable

The great horned owl 'flew off into the morning sun' Monday

River, a Great Horned Owl, built a nest for her two eggs on a residential balcony in West Bend, Wis. Photo courtesy of Christine Moczynski

The last egg in a great horned owl nest in West Bend is unlikely to hatch. River, known on social media as The Potted Owl, has been nesting there in an empty flower pot for weeks.  

Late on April 14, River ate one egg and hours later “flew off into the morning sun,” leaving one egg behind. She has not been back since, suggesting the remaining egg is not viable.

On Monday morning Christine and John Moczynski shared the news with more than 9,000 social media followers.

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“It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that John and I have to make this announcement,” the post read. “We no longer have a nest.”

The earliest the first egg could have hatched was April 12.  

In March, Christine and John welcomed two owls, River and Oscar, to the balcony of their condo. The owls seemed to have picked a red flower pot four stories up at random as a nesting place. Christine and John took great care to make the mother-to-be comfortable as she sat on her eggs.

They altered parts of their lifestyle including how they cleaned, cooked and entertained themselves. They set up three video cameras on the balcony and watched River sit on her eggs and communicate with Oscar.

They posted daily pictures and videos in a Facebook group where thousands of people from around the world followed along.

In an interview with WPR earlier this month, Christine said watching the owls interact with each other at night was one of her favorite parts.

“What astounded me was all the different sounds that they make. It’s not just ‘Hoot, hoot, hoot.’ They have cackles. Their pitches change,” she said. “I wish I knew how to speak great horned owl because I would love to know what they’re talking about.”

The couple said they are saddened by the news while also recognizing “nature just took its course.”

Christine previously said hosting River and Oscar reminded her of the importance of conservation. The announcement on social media reiterated the takeaway.

“Think about the environment around you. We have to share it. It’s not just ours. And we all benefit from it. We all need clean waterways, we all need clean land,” Christine told WPR.

For the time being, the remaining egg will stay in the red flower pot where it was originally laid in March.

“Even though we have come to this sad ending, it has been an amazing journey for us and we are so glad to have built such a wonderful community of animal lovers,” the Facebook post said.

John plans to make a documentary from the video footage they collected, which will eventually be posted on social media. Owl themed merchandise is forthcoming. Part of the proceeds will be donated.

The couple hopes River will return next year to nest on their balcony again.