Baby barn owls!
This week we had one of our most exciting days ever – we got to meet our baby barn owls!
To rewind the story a bit; ever since we started our rewilding project at the farm we’ve been seeing the barn owls hunting over the fields. The long grass now isn’t cut and falls over creating a thatch in the fields, which is a brilliant environment for voles, and wherever there are lots of voles the barn owls will follow. We spend many sunny evenings watching these graceful birds swooping and hunting over the fields. Many of our guests have had amazing shows as the barn owl hunts undisturbed over their camp!
At the end of last year we decided to build an owl box with the hope that our hunting barn owls would move in, and we watched intently over the winter. Then early this Spring – success! We saw one of the barn owls plop into the owl box. As Spring turned into early Summer the barn owl activity accelerated, with both male and female barn owls going in and out of the box, a sure sign there were chicks in there!
This week a lovely man called Colin, an expert barn owl ringer, trained and registered with the British Trust for Ornithology, came to have a look and find out for real what was happening in the box. Ringing barn owls helps to provide a wealth of information about the movements, behaviour and territories of these beautiful birds, and doesn’t harm the birds.
We had expected that Colin would just go in the box and do his ringing and we might get him to take a photo, and at least find out how many baby owls we had in there. We were super excited to even do that! Were there really owlets in there? But the reality totally surpassed our expectations when Colin brought them down the tree and asked if we would like to hold them while he did the ringing! I think you can see from the looks on our faces that we were incredibly excited!
Our barn owls have done really well and they have raised four owlets – two girls, two boys. Owls lay eggs in 2 day intervals, so the biggest chick was quite a big bigger than her siblings, and Colin thought she may be ready to try flying soon. So we are back watching and waiting in front of the owl box for the next installation in our barn owl story. Who needs Netflix?
Massive thanks to our brilliant friend Nick Hodgson for the amazing pictures of the adult barn owls!