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.
A noisy breakfast in the barn owl box reveals that the last egg has finally hatched and there are now six owlets, ranging from newborn to ten days old.
Now there are more mouths to feed the male is having to do a lot of hunting, but he’s rising to the challenge and this morning there are eleven tasty (to owls) small mammals on the nest box floor ready for the mother to divide up and give to the six hungry chicks.
We’re not sure how many owlets there are, four or five perhaps (we don’t think the last egg has hatched) but the older ones are clearly getting bigger and more boisterous.
Here the mother struggles to contain her clutch and one owlet pops up behind her, and promptly falls asleep on her wingtip. She doesn’t seem to mind though, as when she turns round to see what’s going on, she just lets it rest.
It’s the time of year for our dragonflies to morph from larvae to adults. Here’s the discarded cast (‘exuvia’) of the old skin, probably from a broad-bodied chaser as we have lots of those here and this cast is quite big (about two inches long).
One of our hens thinks she is a cockerel. ‘Tog’ is an old Speckledy and probably not laying anymore, so with too much time on her hands she has decided to mess around. Turn up the sound to hear why!
Update 15 June. Tog has developed a much larger redder wattle than she used to and has spurs have appeared on her legs. Signs of more than just a passing phase: she does appear to be turning into a cockerel.
We now have five tiny owlets of various ages and sizes and one remaining egg. The mother may appear to be stepping on them but she is really being very gentle trying to keep them under control as they wriggle away in all directions.
Last night the female left the nest box briefly to reveal two owlets who, intertwined start chittering loudly to each other. The female calls to them from outside the nest box but they won’t keep quiet until she comes back in and settles back down on them.
Even though the male stays away most of the time he does bring back a lot of food, as you can see from the larder on the floor of the nest box.