Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Breeding Female

We found this lovely, superbly conditioned female brooding three eggs this evening near to Moore. She had been ringed as a chick in July 2011 at Great Barrow. Hopefully if food remains plentiful the chicks will be ready for ringing at the end of September.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Last One

I found this chirpy Little Owl all alone in one of our nest boxes tonight; his siblings having already made their way into the big, wide world. It won't be too long before he joins them though.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

New Barn, new box.

This is a new Little Owl box that I have put in a new barn near to Stretton. I know that the birds are on the farm and hopefully this will give them a safe place to breed next year.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Brood of Three

This lovely brood of three Barn Owls was ringed today in Crewe; the younger male on the left along with his two sisters. For the second year running the owls are benefiting from the good habitat provided by one of the local golf courses. These birds will be ready to make their first exploratory flights in about three weeks time and should then begin to delight the local golfers.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Back Home

I was able to reunite this Little Owl with mum after a well-meaning, bit mistaken, member of the public picked it up off the ground thinking that it needed rescuing. Provided the bird is not injured, it is more than capable of climbing back up a tree using its beak and claws and, more often than not, the parent birds know where the youngsters are. The same applies to young Tawny Owls, which are also prone to being found on the ground as well.
Gladly this youngster should now be able to fledge successfully now that he is back home.

Another youngster

We found our second young Barn Owl of the year last night near to Lymm. Mum is still looking after the only owlet in the nest box, indeed when there is only a solitary chick they tend to remain with them for somewhat longer that when the brood size is larger. She had been ringed as a chick herself in the Summer of 2011 about 4km away on a farm near to Dunham.
The chick was content enough just to go back to sleep during the ringing process.


Monday, 8 July 2013


In March I posted about a trip to replace some of our older boxes with new ones and remarked that the habitat was fantastic. This evening the adage that a good home in a food-rich habitat will enable birds to breed successfully has proved to be true.

Three nest boxes within 200 meters of each other all contained birds. The fist box held a brood of five Kestrels which were duly ringed and the second held this solitary female Kestrel youngster, she was about 10 days older than the birds in the first brood and it may well be that some of her elder siblings have already fledged.

The final box held the same female Barn Owl that was in residence in early March and she was incubating a single chick that was only a few days old along with four eggs that have yet to hatch. The image below shows how well-developed her brood patch is. A brood patch is where the female bird sheds some feathers to expose an area of bare skin and this enables blood vessels near to the surface of the skin  to transfer heat to the eggs during the incubation period. Following incubation the feathers are then regrown.

We will return later in the season to check upon progress of the brood of owlets.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Talon Flange

As Barn owls grow they develop a serrated flange on the edge of their middle talon and this is used almost as a comb for preening the edges of their facial disc.It is essential for the owl's hearing that the disc is in pristine condition if he is to hunt successfully.
The flange emerges as the Barn Owl grows and it is fully developed by the time that the owl is two years of age. 
This particular bird was ringed as a chick by me in 2009 and today he was located in his favourite roost box with his long-term mate. It is clear to see how his talon flange has developed and how smart his preening has made him!

Monday, 1 July 2013

First Barn Owl Chick of 2013

After what seems like days and days of fruitless searching around our Barn Owl sites we eventually found the first owlet of 2013 at Dutton today. Given the disappointing breeding season so far, it was not a total surprise to discover that she was a solitary chick. However, the plus side is that she had benefited by receiving all of the food from her parents and consequently weighed in at a bouncing 421 grams, making her positively plump!
There seems to be a food shortage at many of our sites but at least this bird is benefiting from the rough grassland area which provides good small mammal habitat around the nest site.