Learning to taxi

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.

Preflight checks

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.

Hello World

Freedom Day and the oldest owlet ventures out onto the nest box ledge for the very first time. 50 days old and still covered with fluff, it surveys the strange thing that is the world outside.

What a difference nine months makes

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.

Wobble head

Another quite day for the three owlets but they are beginning to get a bit restless: here’s one practising its neck exercises in front of the camera.

Sorry about the thumping noise – it’s a fault with the camera

Growing up

Day 42 and the owlets are developing the typical barn owl heart-shaped face and they start to lose their fluff to reveal their new feathers.

Another week and we hope to have a visit from the Shropshire Barn Owl Group to check and ring the owlets: a great chance to see the three wobble-heads close up!

Three fluffballs

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.

Fast food

The adults is hunting earlier and earlier as the owlets getting bigger and hungrier. Here the female dashes back in with dinner, so quick you can hardly see the field vole she has caught.

The oldest hatched 25 days ago and the youngest a week later.

Full bellies

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.

Now you see it, now you don’t

The mother brings back a field vole for the hungry owlets and within the blink of an eye it’s gone. Question: who won the prize?! You may have to watch the video more than once to spot it.

Answer: it’s the largest owlet who grabs it and rushes to the corner of the nest box to swallow it whole, and it’s vanished even before the mother leaves the nest.

And then there were three

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.

Four hungry owlets and one wet mother

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.

Down in one

Now the owlets have their warm fur coats and the weather is good the mother can go out at night hunting for them.

Here she brings back a small mouse, to a lot of fuss from the hungry youngsters. It is the second oldest who gets the prize and duly downs it in one (with a bit of a struggle).

Note the large dead vole on the floor, a little too big for the owlets to eat themselves.

Not so cute

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.

Red in tooth and claw


Here are two minutes of baby barn owls goodness. There are four now in the nest with the mother with the smallest two of the original six having succumbed to nature (which we were expecting).

These remainers are looking healthy as they rapidly get bigger and develop their new fur coats (though only the older ones could be described as cute). The oldest one can now open its eyes too.

Here we can just make out five owlets. The sixth may be underneath the mother but we don’t know for sure.

Turning white

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.