The Barn Owl

We were rather concerned about our barn owl as we hadn’t seen much sign of it recently. Then on 10 March 2012, Lily saw the owl by the cart shed and it was rather weak and hungry. The owl was even trying to eat leaves off the ground. Unusually the owl allowed Ian to approach, and pick it up. We tried ringing the local agencies, but being early Saturday morning, nobody was available and we were unable to obtain help.

Initially we put the owl in the garden shed, so that it had shelter and wasn’t disturbed. Ian then went to the Sheringham pet shop and bought £20 worth of frozen mice. As soon as he arrived home, we defrosted a mouse in the microwave. The smell wasn’t good, but the owl was most appreciative of the offering and perked up a little.

We made good the sheep shelter and transferred the owl, where it could quietly perch. We erected netting across the entrance, although the owl showed no desire to escape. We also moved the barn owl box into the sheep shelter from the cart shed, so that the owl had somewhere to stand, and had something familiar. We continued to feed the owl with defrosted mice during the course of the day, and as the day progressed it was becoming stronger. Later in the day it flew to Ian to take a mouse. We were concerned that the owl might become too tame so we decided that we would build it up as much as possible over the weekend and then let it go on Sunday night. Ian also cleaned out the barn owl box on the oak tree in the hope that the owl would take up residence there again.

By Sunday morning the owl was looking decidedly better and even hissed at Ian before devouring a mouse. It was a privilege to see the owl close up. It’s plumage so fine and soft. During Sunday the owl continued to improve and as dusk came we rolled up the netting. The owl stayed and so we took a mouse to it in late evening. The owl was still there Monday morning, and it devoured another mouse. During the day the owl took its leave and in the evening we saw it fly over the caravan site.

A few days later we saw the owl perched on the ledge of the oak tree’s barn owl box, sunning itself in the evening sunshine. We were also told by several guests that they had seen the owl on the box and on a post nearby. Then earlier this week I saw the owl doing what it does best, out hunting over the uncut hay fields, it was a wonderful sight.

We are not sure what happened, whether the owl lost its mate and was pining; or whether it was stunned or slightly injured. But it is definitely on the mend. We haven’t seen another owl, but our owl was standing on the ledge on the barn owl box yesterday evening calling, so we are hopeful that it will pair up before the breeding season.

I did manage to take one picture of the owl in the sheep shelter: