About the Barn Owl
Nestcam Diary 2010
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1st - no confirmed Barn Owl sightings for about a week is typical autumn behaviour. However, we're hoping to continue to stream Barncam over the winter so please keep checking in on the off-chance that there's some action.
We probably won't be updating the diary from now on but will start another diary next year as and when the pair starts spending more time in the barn. Our thanks to all those who have contributed observations to the diary this year. Take care.
23rd - technical problems over the last couple of days will hopefully be resolved tomorrow.
20th - many thanks to those who reported their observations of Barn Owls on Barncam on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. These observations ranged from late afternoon to mid-evening and this is clearly the best time to catch sight of any visiting Barn Owls for those interested.
16th - a ringed owl was again in the barn last night between 8.00pm and 8.45pm but it was again unclear what age it was.
15th - an owl was at the back of the barn again last night from 9.00pm to 9.45pm.
12th - an owl was seen at the back of the barn in the early hours of the morning. Although too distant to be sure, it was probably one of the adults again.
9th - more reports have been received of two Barn Owls in the barn overnight. One owl was observed in the barn around 9pm which called on departing. Two birds were in the barn in the early hours of this morning, and both were ringed.
7th - we received a report of a Barn Owl in the barn again briefly last night around 9pm but it was too far away to tell whether it was one of the owlets or one of the adults.
2nd - two Barn Owls were on the beams in the barn at just before 9pm last night. However, it is thought that these were the adults taking a break from roosting nearby, rather than the owlets returning.
28th - what was thought to be the youngest owlet made an appearance in the nestbox first thing and spent the rest of the day at roost in the barn. It disappeared at 6pm, then reappeared briefly at about 8pm before going out, and hasn't been seen since.
27th - no owlets again today although it may be that either one or both will pop in again before finally disappearing, as the owlets did last year.
26th - neither owlet seems to be in the barn this morning, the first time both have been absent since hatching.
25th - only one Barn Owl seems to be at roost in the barn today.
23rd - despite only one owlet being visible first thing this morning, its sibling had made an appearance by lunchtime so both owlets are still present. We're not sure whether it was roosting out of sight on beams behind the nestbox at the back of the barn or whether it flew in from elsewhere.
18th - both owlets still seem to be roosting either in the nestbox or more frequently on the tray during the day. With the eldest 12 weeks old tomorrow, it won't be long before she starts spending her days elsewhere. Last year the eldest owlet had all but gone by 12 and a half weeks old.
16th - both owlets are still about during the day, roosting in the nestbox or on the tray. Food is still being delivered by the parents, with the youngest owlet receiving three food items in about an hour last night.
9th - neither owlet is spending much time in the nestbox these days, preferring rather to roost on the tray outside. Both owlets have been out and about but food is still apparently being delivered to the nestbox, as the youngest owlet has been seen consuming prey items on the tray over the weekend.
5th - we have had a report that the second owlet has now started to leave the barn. She was out for about an hour last night.
3rd - reports over the last couple of days seem to suggest that the eldest owlet has been leaving the barn in the evening. The second owlet is still spending most of its time in the nestbox for the moment.
28th - one of our viewers has informed us that as predicted, the youngest owlet was seen flying for the first time last night.
27th - we have received several reports over the last couple of days that the eldest owlet has been flying around the barn and this a natural stage in the fledging process. The youngest is expected to follow suit shortly.
Food deliveries continue and everything seems to be okay at the moment.
26th - the Barn Owl Trust staff would like to thank all those who have submitted kind comments since the death of the youngest owlet. For those who are unsure as to the nature of the nest site, it is a wild Barn Owl nest site. Wild Barn Owls have been nesting at this site since 1994 and most years they have been successful. However, please be aware that they are wild birds and we are not in control of what happens to them. It is natural for some of the eggs to fail and some of the nestlings to die and we cannot be held responsible for this.
Survival and nesting success are largely controlled by food supply and encouraging the creation of prey-rich habitat is one of the most important things that the Barn Owl Trusts does. If you have any land that you can allow to turn into rough, tussocky grassland, this would be the single most important thing you could do to improve Barn Owl survival rates.
23rd - many thanks to all those who responded to our plea for information concerning food deliveries last night. Between 9.30pm and at least 1.40am this morning there were apparently 11 food deliveries. This is a good supply of food and we have no reason to be concerned about the two surviving owlets. In fact, one of the owlets found a cached food item in the nestbox at 3pm and proceeded to feed.
We have had a number of emails about nestbox design, suggesting that this is the reason why the youngest owlet starved. Over 25 years of experience has lead us to the conclusion that 'deep' boxes (with the hole high up in the nestbox) are significantly safer than other types of nestbox, such as those in the slideshow to the right > > > > >
Some concerned viewers have asked about providing extra food for the owlets. These are wild Barn Owls and inappropriate feeding of wild Barn Owls can lead to further problems, regarding dependency and a false sense of food availability. Supplementary feeding cannot be done by Barn Owl Trust staff because the nest site is over 2 hours away from our offices and we only have a staff of 4. The site owner is in his 80s and so is unable to regularly go up a high ladder. The Barn Owl Trust reiterates that the average brood size this year across the South-west of England is 2, this is because there is not enough food to support any more. A link to our leaflet on the subject can also be found in the right hand margin > > > > >
22nd, 2pm - as it has become apparent that the youngest owlet starved to death, we again welcome any observations of prey deliveries by the adults. If you can let us know what time you notice prey being delivered, that would be extremely helpful. We will also visit the site to check on the condition of the two remaining owlets.
22nd, 9.30am - on 21st July, the youngest owlet was again returned to the nestbox by the site owner. Barn Owl Trust staff monitoring the nestbox became concerned that the owlet may have sustained an injury and one of our staff went to collect the bird for veterinary attention but sadly it died en route.
We've subsequently examined and weighed it and at only 228g we're certain it died of starvation (a 51 day old owlet should weigh between 350-400g). However, looking on the bright side, this does increase the chances of survival of the other two. The owlet had no evidence of any injury.
The last time the owlets' condition was checked, only 6 days ago, all three were in excellent health. High levels of nestling mortality are a sad fact of life and the vast majority of nests we have visited this year contain only two young.
Many thanks for all your kind messages.
21st, 12.45pm - the youngest owlet has been removed by the site owner. A member of the BOT conservation team is on her way to check it over.
21st - an owlet has fallen from the nestbox again overnight and we are in communication with the site owner to get it put back asap! For those concerned about the nestbox design, please follow the link on the right entitled 'Research and development' and scroll down to the section entitled Fallen owlet investigation and the development of safer Barn Owl nestbox designs.
20th - at about 2.30am this morning the youngest owlet fell from the tray. The owner has now found and replaced it back in the nestbox.
19th - between 11.11pm Saturday night and 3.20am Sunday morning there were apparently 12 food deliveries of voles and mice, which all three owlets potentially benefited from.
15th - further reports from Tuesday night refer to the owlet simply walking off the edge of the tray rather than being bumped off by the adult. Nevertheless, she was back out on the tray again last night, ignorant of the worry she had caused the previous evening.
This morning BOT staff visited and checked all three owlets over. All three are okay, fortunately none the worse for their adventures.
Thanks to those who supplied food delivery information for last night. It would appear that the eldest owlet had the lion's share of the food deliveries early on as she was out of the nestbox on the tray. However, later on the other two owlets also received food deliveries, presumably once the eldest felt sufficiently full.
14th - overnight one of the owlets that had managed to get out of the nestbox was accidentally bumped by one of the returning adults and fell from the tray to the floor of the barn. This morning, it was found and boxed up. It has now been returned to the nestbox and has settled back down with its siblings. Thank you to everyone who called and emailed us with your concerns.
9th - yesterday we ringed the owlets with BTO rings, and additionally colour-ringed them as follows;
Youngest owlet, female
Left leg - BTO ring below, 1 blue ring above
Right leg - 2 blue rings
Middle owlet, female
Left leg - BTO ring only
Right leg - 2 blue rings
Eldest owlet, female
Left leg - BTO ring
Right leg - 1 blue ring
An avid viewer reports that there were 9 food deliveries of voles/mice last night between 9.23pm and 10.54pm, with all three owlets probably receiving three items each. If anyone else is prepared to monitor food deliveries for long periods we'd of course be interested in receiving a summary of activity.
8th - from the response to our last Nestcam Diary entry, it seems as though the owlets (including the youngest) ARE receiving a good supply of food. A viewer reported that yesterday evening, the adults delivered prey items every 10 minutes between 11:30pm and 12:15am.
Please note: Due to essential maintenance, both of the webcams will not be streaming today between 10:15 am and 5:00pm. We apologise for any inconvenience.
7th - a viewer has reported that one of the adult owls was spotted bringing in a young bird at approximately 12:50am on the 3rd July. Did anyone notice this and if so, can you tell us what species the young bird was? We have also received concerned reports from viewers that the adults are not delivering prey as often as they should. We would appreciate any information regarding the timing of prey deliveries. Furthermore, has anyone seen the youngest owlet get a decent meal recently? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
2nd - many thanks to all those who responded to our request for information on the mole sighting. Apparently a mole was delivered to the nestbox on the 29th June but there appears to be no consensus on what has happened to it other than it proved too large to eat whole for the three owlets.
1st - all three owlets are still doing well with much activity and commotion greeting the several food deliveries that the parents made last night.
A cached food item was consumed by one of the owlets this morning but clearly not the mole that one of our viewers thinks he saw in the nestbox yesterday. If anyone can confirm the presence of a mole in the nestbox we'd be interested to hear from you; email@example.com
25th - as the fine weather continues, everything seems to be going well. Both adults appear to be roosting elsewhere on the farm, only returning to the nestbox in the evenings with food. This is entirely normal and is certainly nothing to be concerned about.
21st - apologies for the absence of streaming yesterday, a result of some inexplicable technical problems, now hopefully resolved.
The female is neither in the nestbox this morning nor in the barn it seems. However, this is as expected and nothing to worry about. The eldest owlet took a small mammal at about 9.30am that had been cached in the nestbox overnight, indicating food deliveries continue as usual.
A rather comical sight at lunchtime involved all three owlets having a lie down in the nestbox, presumably due to the heat (see image).
18th - the young owlets will increasingly be left in the nestbox on their own as they now have what is called a mesoptile down, which allows them to thermoregulate (keep themselves warm). The adult birds will still be roosting nearby and bringing food and if the weather turns cooler then the female may return to the nestbox. At this stage there doesn't appear to be anything to worry about.
14th - unfortunately we have been experiencing some technical difficulties with our webcams sporadically since Friday evening. We are working on rectifying the situation and apologise for any interrupted viewing you may experience. May we also take this opportunity to forewarn our viewers that on Thursday 17th June 2010, there will be a power cut due to essential maintenance on power lines. Therefore, nestcam and barncam will not be streaming between 8am and 8pm on that day.
9th - the owlets appear to be making good progress and growing rapidly.
3rd - all three owlets seem to be doing well and quite vocal, with the female feeding mid-morning.
1st - confirmation that all of the eggs have hatched came this morning at 10.50am as the adult female got up for a stretch and 3 owlets appeared from underneath her! We also noticed her feeding one of them around midday.
29th - the second owlet hatched last night, at approximately 8pm. If anyone has an accurate idea of the time please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
28th - the female was first seen feeding the owlet at about 10.30pm last night just after the male had copulated with her. Both parents are in the nestbox today, with the male eating a cached food item at 10.20am.
27th - first egg hatched some time between 10.00 and 10.30am this morning. The owlet is already making characteristic high-pitched begging calls and the female is responding with her chittering calls.
26th - the first egg is due to hatch some time today but by mid-day the female was still incubating 3 eggs. However, there has been much chittering by the female (a food offering call made when presenting food items) so hopes are high it's imminent. We're keen to record the exact time of hatching so please do let us know if you happen to see it.
25th - no sign of any owlets just yet. Last night the female was seen eating a very large food item (possibly a rat) from the cache. Again, she had difficulty in swallowing it whole and so ripped it apart.
21st - with the temperature rising, the female started looking slightly uncomfortable this afternoon, hanging her wings and panting. However, Barn Owls are quite capable of dealing with signficantly higher temperatures so there's nothing to worry about. First egg due to hatch Tuesday or Wednesday next week.
19th - the female was seen eating a small mammal from a food cache at 9:00 this morning. She ripped it apart rather than swallowing it whole. Was she practicing for feeding her owlets when they arrive? The first egg should be hatching in only a week's time!
15th - the gradual accumulation of feathers in the nestbox is indicative of the female moulting, and this is entirely natural. This she does whilst inactive during incubation to reduce the impact of feather loss on her ability to forage. The male will probably start his moult later on in the summer. All seems well still . . .
11th - male in the box again today. Copulation occurred mid-morning.
10th - the male has been roosting in the nestbox for the last couple of days. Mid-afternoon, he took a cached food item out of the nestbox and ate it, despite the female's interest.
7th - incubation continues. The male is conspicuous by his absence during the day now that the clutch is complete. However, he's been feeding himself and the female for several weeks already (as well as undertaking his conjugal duties) so is no doubt enjoying a well-earned rest until foraging begins later.
5th - so only 3 eggs! Admittedly this is something of a disappointment as hopes were high of an average clutch size this year. Nevertheless, it probably increases the chances of survival for those that actually hatch.
30th - 3rd egg! Another egg was laid some time before 6.37pm last night. Food deliveries apparently continue unabated with two small rodents delivered in quick succession before 10pm.
28th - the male has been very busy overnight bringing in food for the female. He even managed to cache a small mammal in a corner of the nestbox which the female eventually consumed mid-morning. This is a good sign, indicating an excess of food and leads us to hope for continued laying.
More good news - early afternoon, another small mammal, probably a mouse species, was snatched by the female whilst the male held it in his bill.
27th - 2nd egg!!! The second egg was laid some time before 2.30am today. If anyone saw it any earlier than this, please let us know.
We've been reliably informed by an avid viewer that the male has been doing his bit by supplying the female with a decent number of small mammals during the evenings, so perhaps we were worrying a bit too much about her wandering around yesterday.
26th - we've noticed that the female seems to be spending a worrying amount of time not incubating the egg and this may be because she's underweight. Due to the unusually late spring (dry and cold), it's highly likely that Barn Owls will not be having a good breeding season and this may result in the nest being deserted. So much depends on how much prey is delivered over the next few weeks.
Please bear in mind that these are wild birds at a remote location and we are not in control of what happens to them.
24th - FIRST EGG LAID! The female finally laid today (Saturday), a week later than the average date. We think she laid some time before 4pm but if you actually saw the egg earlier than this we'd be very interested to hear from you (email@example.com)
23rd - more sporadic pellet shredding over the last couple of days, raising hopes of imminent egg-laying.
21st - last night the female finally started some serious attempts at scraping the floor with her feet. Barn Owls do not use conventional nesting material, rather they make a shallow scrape in the debris of pellets where the eggs are eventually laid. Hopefully this is a sign of imminent egg-laying . . . we shall have to wait and see.
20th - Barncam problems have finally been resolved with the installation of a new camera, which seems to be more inclined to stay in colour than the last one. Both birds are still in the nestbox today, with the female tearing up and shredding a pellet at lunchtime.
19th - both birds are still roosting in the nestbox together during the day. The average date for the first egg based on BOT data from 1998 to 2006 is the 17th April so our pair is already late.
15th - the female still seems to be going out of the nestbox at times in the evenings as neither bird was visible on Nestcam at about 11pm last night.
12th - there appears to be a small mammal cached in the nestbox this morning. This, or another small mammal, was consumed whole by the female at about 12.30pm.
Interestingly, we've noticed that when the female is on the tray outside the nestbox waiting for the male to return from foraging, she jumps back into the nestbox on his return, where prey presentation and copulation occurs. We'd be interested to hear from anyone who has noticed prey presentation and/or copulation anywhere but inside the box.
9th - both birds have been in the nestbox almost continuously during the day with frequent vocalisations and regular copulation.
At 2.40pm the female swallowed whole what looked like a Wood Mouse from a food cache in the nestbox, a very good sign.
1st - again, just the female is roosting in the nestbox this morning. Last night the male was seen presenting the female with a small mammal. The pair then copulated. Shortly afterwards the male left the nestbox while the female continued begging for food. Copulation occurred at least four times throughout the evening. The cold weather over night does not seem to have deterred the birds from pre-nesting activity.
31st - only the female is roosting in the nestbox today.
30th - both the male and female are roosting the nextbox today. The pair copulated at approximately 2pm.
29th - the pair were proving elusive during daylight hours at the weekend but made frenzied appearances in the evenings. The female entered the nestbox this morning at approximately 9:15am and has since been roosting. At approximately 2:50pm the male entered the nestbox and the pair copulated.
26th - some unexplained streaming trouble proved frustrating first thing. Fortunately, it didn't appear to last too long.
The pair are again in the nestbox today, with copulation occurring early afternoon.
23rd - again both the male and female are roosting in the nestbox this morning.
22nd - the pair are roosting in the nestbox today. At approximately midday the pair were seen copulating and calling to one another. During the evening the pair remained near the nestbox.
21st - neither of the owls roosted in the nestbox during the day but were seen in the evening.
20th - during the morning both owls were in the nestbox but by midday the male was gone. During the evening, the female was seen to fly towards the camera. We think she was probably trying to a catch a spider or something similar. This is the same female as last year and is familiar with the camera so should not be disturbed by it. She was also seen shredding pellets which is part of nesting behaviour. The pair were frequently calling.
19th - the pair are both in the nestbox this morning, the first time they've both been at roost in the nestbox since the beginning of February.
Action last night included copulation and preening early evening just before dark. Both birds then seemed to disappear, probably to go foraging, only for the female to reappear again a bit later at about 10.30pm. Copulation again occurred in the nestbox at about 11pm.
18th - again much activity last night. The female flew in at about 4pm yesterday afternoon and was still around until at least 11pm, with the male in and around the box from 6.35pm onwards. In between, preening and copulation occurred several times, accompanied by almost continous screeching from the female at times. This morning the female is at roost in the nestbox, the first morning since the 3rd March.
17th - a lot of activity and much vocalisation last night. At around 7.00pm they were both in the nest box copulating and preening. After about 10 minutes the male went outside and then disappeared. The female went outside at about 7.20pm and was still outside at 9.10pm. There was screeching heard from the female in the nestbox at 9.30pm, whilst the male was outside. By 9.50pm the male had gone but the female was still in the box until at least 10.15pm.
16th - both birds were again in the nestbox last night at about 6.50pm. The male then left at about 7.00pm, with the female staying in the box. After about a quarter of an hour the female also left. Both birds were back in the nestbox at about 8.55pm, where much preening occurred.
The female appears to be making a lot of noise currently, probably begging for food from the male.
14th - the pair has been in and around the nestbox over the weekend. The female spent time in the nestbox last night until about 10pm, with the male outside. They were both in the nestbox again at about 11pm, when she was heard calling persistently and was preened by the male.
11th - at approximately 7pm the owls were seen copulating in the nestbox. At 7:15pm, both the male and female left the barn.
9th - at approximately 6:45pm both the male and female were in the nestbox calling and preening. At around 7pm, the male left.
8th - the female was seen in the nestbox between 7:30pm and 8pm. We assume that the male was out foraging for them both.
7th - again, both owls were seen copulating and preening.
6th - the female was heard calling to the male. Both owls entered the nestbox where they were seen copulating and preening.
5th - a new microphone has now been installed. Hopefully you will be able to hear the sound from inside the nestbox but we may experience teething difficulties so please be patient. The female was in the nestbox last night and was heard screeching.
4th - no streaming due to routine maintenance.
3rd - the female has again made an appearance in the nestbox today.
28th - both owls were perched on the rafters in the barn between 7:30pm and 8:30pm. At 8:30pm the male was seen preening the female in the nestbox.
26th - the female is roosting in the nestbox this morning.
25th - at 7:40pm, both owls were seen together in the nestbox.
24th - both owls were seen in the nestbox during early evening. At approximately 8:40pm the pair were seen copulating and again at 9:30pm. At 9:40pm both owls left the barn.
22nd - one owl was perched on the back rafter for a short time at 6:30pm. It then left the barn. At 10pm it returned to perching on the back rafter.
21st - the owl went into the nestbox during early evening and then sat on the rafters until approximately 9:30pm.
20th - one owl (presumably the female) was seen in the nestbox at approximately 6:30pm. She then perched on the rafter between 7 - 8:30pm. At 9:30pm she returned to the nestbox.
19th - one owl was seen on the rafters between 7 - 8pm.
18th - the female did not roost in the nestbox during the day. One owl was seen perched on the rafters from 7pm to 8:30pm.
17th - more heavy rain and the female has not been in the nestbox during the day. Both owls were seen perched on the rafters at 8pm. At 10pm, one owl, presumably the female, was seen in the nestbox while the other remained on the rafters.
16th - after heavy rain last night the female is not in the nestbox this morning. At approximately 6:15pm, the female was seen inside the nestbox. The male arrived and they copulated. He spent 5 minutes preening her afterwards and then left. She stayed in the box. The male returned at 9:40pm and they copulated again. He then preened the female. At 10pm the male was seen perched on the barn rafters while the female remained in the nestbox.
15th - the presumed female is again at roost in the nest box. Note the large, fresh, black, shiny pellet in the foreground. At lunchtime, the female took a small mammal from a food cache in the corner of the nestbox.
12th - the female has been roosting in the nest box all day today. Two fresh pellets are clearly visible on last year’s nest debris.
11th - the pair were seen copulating last night.
10th - a Barn Owl has been sitting on the back and front rafters for over a week now and this evening one is staying longer than usual.
9th - the pair were again visible on Barncam in the evening, when mutual preening occurred.
7th – at about 6pm both individuals were seen in the nestbox barn for probably the first time since last autumn. One of the birds (the female?) went into the box. The remaining bird then stayed in the barn for a couple of hours. This is the first time the birds have ventured back to the nest site this year raising hopes of another successful breeding season. We therefore thought it might be nice to stream Nestcam as early as possible so viewers get to see the whole process, including pre-laying behaviour.