Day 27. The two furballs are getting bigger, and now showing the first signs of feathers underneath the fluff. Too big now for the mother to sit on and she has to endure constant attention-seeking behaviour. Hunting is still not great so we are having to carefully supplement feed them (mostly with field mice that we are catching in the field).
Watch for the mother preening her flight feathers and then one of the owlets trying to help by imitating this behaviour.
Day 23. Better hunting by the female last night, thank goodness, so two juicy field mice for the hootlets’ breakfast. The older furball has been dominating the feeding recently so it’s good to see the younger getting a chance: here it is managing, with some difficulty, to down it in one.
Day 22. A difficult couple of days where we lost another tiny hootlet and are now down to two. This is almost certainly down to lack of food, with neither parent bringing back enough. The dad had been absent but has now returned to join them during the day, and last night the mother brought back a big fat mole. The remaining furballs are looking healthy and active but we may need to supplement feed them so are getting advice and keeping a close eye on the situation.
Day 18. The three remaining hootlets seem to be OK, but the dad is being pretty useless, going out all night and coming back without any food for them. The female had to go out last night so they didn’t go hungry. He even had the nerve to want ‘make babies’ again with her again today.
Day 16. It’s been hard to tell how many owlets there are in the fluffy heap in the nest box but this clip from last night shows all five eggs had hatched, but one of the youngest has died and the next smallest is unlikely to survive as it is too young to fend for itself (the adults are now no longer feeding each of them but just bringing in and leaving whole prey).
Five owlets but one dead (lying on the right of the others) and one unlikely to survive (it appears, struggling, from under the left of the largest owlet)
Day 12. Four hootlets, getting noisier and more boisterous as they get bigger. The mother is leaving the nest from time to time during the night, now that it is warmer and the owlets are developing their owl downy insulation.
The fourth owl (top right of the group) is very small in comparison as it was the last to hatch. It may well not survive as the adults would struggle to feed all four.
Day 10. The female Barn Owl briefly left the nest box last night so we had a glimpse of the new hoots – three all lying in a bundle (one only just in view). A good night hunting – three field voles brought back by the male so hungy mouths fed.
Day 9. We don’t know! At least three but the female isn’t moving from over them so we can’t see. They’re certainly making a lot of noise. Here she is chittering away to them while dad keeps an eye out.