Saturday, 19 April 2014

Tail Moult

Female Barn Owls usually begin the moult of their feathers to coincide with the time when they are incubating their eggs or brooding young owls. This timing is deliberately chosen as it coincides with their period of least flight activity and it is also a time when her partner assumes responsibility for providing her food needs.

This third year breeding female, which I found today, is clearly showing her tail feather moult and the bedraggled state of it shows how the birds take advantage of the breeding cycle to replace their flight feathers. The impact of moult along with egg production and incubation place great demands upon the birds and it is essential that they are able to store up enough fat reserves beforehand to get them through this most demanding period of the year.

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