Almost gone

The three young owls are visiting the nest box less and less now as they gain their independence. They still appear from time to time to have a play around with each other and hiss hopefully for the adults to feed them but this may well be the last we see of them.

Our job may be done for these three but the nest box may only be empty for a few days so we need to get up there and clean it out and do repairs in time for the next tenants.

A typical night at the owl box

The youngest owlet comes out of the owl box to sit on the ledge soon after sundown, shortly joined by her two sisters who are roosting somewhere nearby.

They spend most of the night hissing and squabbling with a little practice flying but they’re not hunting for themselves yet so the parents respond to their calls and bring them food to keep them going. Just before dawn the older ones go back to their roosts, leaving the youngest on her own, at least until the next night.

They are getting quite noisy and we can often hear them from the other side of the field, at least five hundred feet away. They do need to start hunting for themselves as the parents won’t keep up the feeding: won’t be long though.

Here’s the youngest owlet settling down for a day’s rest after the night before. The field mouse on the floor is a clear sign she’s being fed well. The adults will have to stop doing this otherwise she won’t learn herself.

10 weeks old

The three owlets are spending the nights hanging around in the dead oak tree, jumping from branch to branch and occasionally flying off as they practice their flying skills. There’s not a lot of hunting behaviour yet but the parents are still coming back to feed them so they’re not going hungry.

First up, last to bed

The youngest owlet is catching up with her older sisters and is usually the first up in early evening and last back in the nest box in the morning.

She stays in the nest box with her sister during the day and they’re joined by the oldest owlet (who is roosting in a tree nearby as there isn’t much room in the nest box) in the evening for a night of practice flying and hunting, with the adults still bringing the younger owlets food during the night to keep them going until they can hunt fully for themselves.

It’s quite noisy out there now, but we think it’s a lovely sound.

Sorry about the thumping background noise: it’s a continuing problem with the Green Feathers camera.

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.

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.