Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Late Birds

After all the recent rain a break in the weather this morning allowed us to return to Whitley to check upon the progress of the late brood that we discovered in September. The site has been in regular use now for a decade, but the isolated tree in the middle of the field is gradually showing signs of decay and there seems to be more dead wood than live branches. However, tell-tale signs around the nest box indicated that there were still birds present and upon opening the inspection hatch I was greeting by three large owlets and, surprisingly, mum too. 

There were two males and a female chick present, the eldest of which is about a week or so away from starting to take his first exploratory flights in the big wide world. All three birds are in good condition and should have no trouble at all in fledging successfully over the next few weeks. Together they constituted the latest brood of owlets that I have ever ringed.

It is not often that the adult birds roost through the day with youngsters of this age but this mother is still snuggling together with them and she has done a remarkable job in this most difficult of years to raise such a late but healthy brood.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Brood of Six.

Early this afternoon a farmer contacted us to say that he had some Barn Owl chicks in a box high up in one of  his barns on his farm near to Widnes.

With the welcome aid of a cherry-picker I was able to check the box with relative ease and snuggled deep inside was this brood of six owlets which were duly ringed. Yes SIX owlets in this year of relative breeding inactivity, the largest brood of the year for me. 

The birds had a good spread of ages, ranging from the eldest on the left at 45 days down to the youngest on the right at 30 days. This demonstrates the asynchronous hatching that is commonplace in broods of Barn Owls which is designed to guarantee the survival of the eldest birds sometimes at the expense of their smaller siblings. These birds are quite well developed however and at this stage all should survive through to fledging.