Day 44

First views of the world! 49 days old and the oldest owlet has ventured out onto the entrance to the nest box to view the wide world outside for the first time. A grainy video in the twilight but the typical wobble-head of the young owl, half fluff and half feathers, is clear to see.

Day 44

The growing owlets have forced the adults to move out as there is little room left in the nest box. The male appears to have gone completely but the female is now roosting in the old nest box nearby and appears in the late evening to hunt for the hungry three fur balls who are now gaining their true feathers. In only a week’s time the first will venture out of the nest box and start learning to fly!

Daytime hunting

Both adults are spending a lot more time hunting. They’re out in the afternoon now as well as evening and night and are bringing back a lot of prey for the owlets. Sometimes one of them will return within five minutes of leaving, with another unfortunate field vole.

Running out of room

Day 30. The three fluffballs are getting bigger and there’s not much room left in the nest box for the owlets and adults. The female is now out hunting with the male at night and it won’t be long for them to start roosting elsewhere during the day. When that happens, we should be able to go in and have a closer look at the owlets.

Chitter chatter

Day 20 and the owlets are gaining their fluffy coats so soon the female won’t need to keep them warm and can go out hunting with the male. The remaining eggs look dirty and she has almost certainly given up on them.

Getting bigger

The female is struggling to control the three hatchlings and sit on the remaining eggs at the same time. The oldest is now two weeks old and all three are doing well, with the male bringing back plenty of food each night.

2 hatchlings, 4 eggs

Another egg has hatched, but another egg has also been laid! Very unusual. There are now two hatchlings (both doing well) and four eggs. Three of these have only been laid recently and even if they hatch they are unlikely to survive as the chicks will be so much smaller than the older ones.

First hatchling of 2022

The first barn owl egg has hatched, 33 days after it it was laid, and the hatchling is doing well so far. The next egg should hopefully hatch in a couple of days. The female may even lay another egg too (but that would be unusual). We’ll keep you posted!

The male was out early this evening, an hour before dusk. He now has a growing family to feed so needs to get started early.

A day later and another egg has appeared; the eggs are hatching as more are being laid. Very odd!

One hatchling, four eggs (and five field voles!)

The first egg of the year

The barn owls haven’t wasted any time this spring and the female has just produced her first egg! She’ll stay in the nest box now as she lays more eggs over the next few days and the male will now do all the hunting for them both, so they’ll both be kept busy.

It’s early in the year still and the weather is unpredictable, but so long as there isn’t prolonged rain or snow covering the ground they should be fine.

Two eggs
Three eggs

Update 24 April 2022. Only three eggs this year (compared to six last year). It might have been the warm weather early this spring that started the female laying earlier than usual and the subsequent cold weather that stopped her after three. Whatever reason, three is what she has, and so far things are going well with the male bringing back plenty of prey. The first egg should hatch this week, fingers crossed.

Four eggs

Update 1 May 2022. 31 days since the first egg was laid and it should have hatched today, but we find the female has laid a fourth egg instead. Very strange behaviour: it might be she was waiting for the weather to warm up, or it was too cold for the first three and she’s started again. We’ll know over the next few days.

Just visiting?

A brief visit to the owl box last night by a new pair of love-struck barn owls. We’re not sure where they are from but they both have identification rings on their legs so they’re definitely not the adults from last year. One of them could be one of the youngsters from last year’s clutch, but owls don’t normally stay where they were raised. Wherever they’re from, it’s good to see that the owl box has potential tenants.

New tenant?

We may have a new tenant in one of the nest boxes! This female (we think) arrived two days ago and is still there. We’re not sure if she is one of the adults from this year who has come back now the youngsters have dispersed. She might be completely new, possibly a dispersed youngster from elsewhere: we’ll keep an eye on her to see if she is ringed.

House hunting

Now the barn owl boxes are temporarily empty it’s time to check them over and do any repairs needed. It might be time to replace the oldest box so we’re going to have a good look at John Lightfoot’s (from the Shropshire Barn Owl Group) range of new homes at Talon Nest Boxes. We have also identified a good site for one of his kestrel boxes: very tempting and it would be wonderful to have a different bird of of prey nesting in the field.