Barn Owl owlets

To our delight, this year we had a late brood of Barn Owl owlets which put on quite a show for our guests during October. The owlets could be heard screeching and hissing every morning and evening, demanding that their parents feed them. The parents dutifully complied and could be seen flying in with voles and other small mammals morning, noon and night. This continued for several weeks before the adults dropped the food down in branches nearby to lure the youngsters from the box. This ploy worked, firstly the bigger and stronger of the two owlets was lured from the box and onto a nearby branch. Eventually, the first owlet, gaining more confidence with each day, flew from the box. The second owlet was more reluctant to leave and continued to screech for food. The adult food visits were to a nearby branch to which the owlet flew. At last, the second owlet considered it was strong enough to venture out into the World, and on the evening of Monday 27 October it left the sanctuary of its box forever. The parents will continue to feed the owlets for 2 to 4 weeks before the owlets disperse to establish their own territory; this is usually around 5 miles from the box.

The owl box was put up in the oak tree about seven years ago, and was almost immediately occupied by a barn owl which was in the vicinity. The owl attracted a mate and in the third year 3 owlets fledged and in the fourth year 2 more fledged. However, in the fifth year one of the owls disappeared, probably due to a road accident, and the box was taken over by a pair of kestrels. In the sixth year the occupants were less exotic, a pair of jackdaws moved in and a pigeon was in residence for a while. That autumn we cleaned out the box and removed all the twigs that the pigeon had accumulated. In the following year (2014) the jackdaws returned. However, once the jackdaw young had fledged earlier this summer, we were delighted to see the Barn Owls reclaim the box. Statistically 97% of males and 94% of females will return to the same site (box) to breed in successive years and therefore we are hopeful that the Barn Owls will return next year. The owls and the owlets appeared to be untroubled by the proximity of the caravan site, and many photographs were taken from this vantage point. Below are two of the stunning photographs taken from the CL by Peter Bash:

BarnOwl 1 feeding BarnOwl 2 twins