The oldest owlet is almost ready to start flying: it is now hopping up and down Before any aviator learns to fly they have to learn to taxi! From dusk to dawn the two older owlets are practising leaping around the nest box and nearby branches as they strengthen their wings and balance.
The youngest owlet isn’t big (or bold) enough to join them yet but it won’t be long before all three are outside together. The adults are still coming back to feed them but will soon start to reduce the amount to get the youngsters hungry and encourage them to start to hunt for themselves.
Our new trailcam shows a series of clips from last night showing what the owlets are getting up to.
Here’s the clip of one of the adults bringing back food for the owlets. are getting up to.
The oldest owlet is almost ready to start flying: it is now hopping up and down between the nest box ledge and the camera boom above it, encouraged by the second owlet. The youngest is still in the nest box, not quite ready to come out into the open air and join in the fun.
In a day or two the oldest will risk all and leap into thin air from the ledge for the first time and start flying.
A big thank you to John and Wendy from the Shropshire Barn Owl Group, for coming round to check on our owlets. All three are fit and healthy with good weights and this time all three are female. They were quite well-behaved: soporific due to the heat and it being the equivalent of the middle of night for them.
As high summer takes hold the pond and field show how much they have recovered from the muddy battlefield of last October. The meadow is lush and the water clear and once more full of life: dragonflies crisscross the surface and squadrons of young house martens noisily practice their divebombing skills. As the sun goes down pipistrelle bats appear silently in the evening above the ripples and plops of hungry roach. And then the barn owls appear.
Now the three owlets are old enough (the oldest is 31 days old) the mother is roosting elsewhere during the day. We were able to turn on a third camera without disturbing them and this one gives a better view of the inside of the nest box.
So enjoy five minutes of the three fluffballs doing what they do during the day.
After a few days of poor hunting this morning there is evidence of abundance, with a spare field mouse on the floor, so the owlets have obviously fed well during the night. The fluffballs are getting bigger and there are signs of their first true feathers coming through.
The oldest hatched 25 days ago and the youngest a week later.
Yesterday evening the male barn owl came out early to start hunting, silently to and fro across the field, passing within feet of us as we sat holding our breath at the edge of the field. Soon afterwards the female flew out from the nest box and for a few moments the pair appeared to serenade each other as they flew out over the long grass, before each headed off into the distance: different directions, same intention.
The hunting appeared to go well during the night, but today the smallest owlet died, probably from being trampled by its bigger bolder siblings rather than hunger.
The three older owlets appear well, but the drizzle tonight has delayed dinner.
The rain stopped hunting early last night. The female came back empty mouthed and soaking wet, to be greeted by a noisy bundle of hungry owlets, who clamoured loudly for food that wasn’t there. The largest of the group became rather aggressive until even it got the message and they all calmed down.
The hunting needs to be better tonight, particularly as the youngest is still very small and vulnerable. Fortunately the weather forecast is good: dry, clear and calm.
If you’ve ever wondered what happens to baby barn owls after they die in the nest box then here’s the answer. It is rather gross, but it’s real nature doing what nature does, and not letting anything go to waste.
The older owlets are rapidly gaining their warm furry white coats and are collectively now too big for the mother to keep underneath her, so she doesn’t bother to try now. It helps for the weather to be warmer too: less need to keep them warm.
Here we can just make out five owlets. The sixth may be underneath the mother but we don’t know for sure.