About the Barn Owl
Nestcam Diary 2011
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16th - both birds are again at roost in the nestbox this morning. On several occasions in the last couple of weeks, active pair bonding has been taking place, with bouts of mutual preening around the head and facial disc.
30th - as November draws to a close both birds are more often than not at roost during the day, visible on either Nestcam or Barncam but appear to go foraging at around 4pm.
14th - both birds are at roost in the nestbox today.
31st - little change in the behaviour of the pair over the last month, with at least one bird usually visible on Nestcam/Barncam during daylight hours. Both were in the nestbox first thing today, and outside at roost on the beams in the barn later on.
27th - as the month draws to a close, there's been little change in behaviour over recent weeks, with both birds spending most of their time in the nestbox or the barn. However, this does represent wholly different behaviour from previous years, when roosting outside of the breeding season has always taken place in the barn conversion provision. It'll be interesting to see how long the birds hang out in the barn as the autumn progresses...
8th - finally, after a week of being unavailable, both cams are now back up and streaming. Thanks to the landowners for replacing their faulty router and to Alan, our IT guy, who sorted it all out. Apologies to everyone else for the blackout.
1st - the landowner reports that he has a problem with his broadband/phone line, which is why both Nestcam and Barncam are down. He is currently waiting for an engineer to come and rectify the problem. In the meantime however, please accept our apologies for the cams being down and be assured we'll get them back up as soon as possible.
By the way, the landowner also reports that both young have fledged successfully from the barn conversion and must have started dispersing as neither has been seen now for over a week.
22nd - the pair is again in the nestbox this morning, following several reports of copulation and mutual preening over the weekend.
18th - having spent all of yesterday together in the nestbox for the first time, the male and the unringed female are in the nestbox together yet again this morning!
17th - the unringed female was in the nestbox again this morning but rather than doing her usual trick of disappearing at around 10am, she stayed in the nestbox for almost the whole day with the male.
15th - the ringed male arrived in the nestcam nestbox at 8.25am this morning and then proceeded to 'look' around the box, presumably for a cached food item. At first it looked as though he had found one and was eating it but on closer inspection, he was actually finding whole pellets and tearing them up with his beak.
12th - last night, copulation occurred at least four times between 9.00pm and 9.30pm, with associated vocalisations and mutual preening. However, neither bird stayed long and the nestbox is empty this morning.
Barn conversion update - both owlets, now fully fledged and mobile, have been in the nest area every morning until yesterday, when neither was present. One bird has since returned and is currently at roost this morning.
11th - further to our earlier post (below), we've now received a report of copuation early this morning at around 3.00am, with a Field Vole cached in the nestbox beforehand.
We've had several reports recently of the male attempting to mate with the mystery individual but being rebuffed. However, someone has reported that there were two birds in the nestbox on Saturday, lots of chittering and screeching, and copulation actually occurred. This morning our ringed male and the mystery female were both in the nestbox when we logged on at 8.30am although the mystery bird had left the box and the barn by 8.45am. The male remains at roost as usual.
10th - two birds were once again in the barn last night at about 9.00pm. One was in the nestbox making lots of noise whilst the other was on the tray preening, but by 9.30pm they had both gone. However, this morning the male is back at roost in the nestbox or on a beam, as usual.
9th - the male has been roosting during the day in the nestbox or barn for over a month now and it's nice to have the opportunity to observe this behaviour. There have been no recent reports of the 'mystery' visitor however.
1st - an interesting report over the weekend concerned the unringed 'mystery' bird in the nestbox with our ringed male. He apparently tried to copulate but was rebuffed and promptly left, only for the mystery bird to start begging for food. Is there some link between the food items he had cached in the nestbox last week and this development?
If you do see any similar behaviour please do let us know.
29th - the male consumed another small mammal this morning at about 8.50am, this time a Field Vole that was cached in the nestbox, which he initially took small pieces of, then eventually swallowed whole.
The other side of the yard, the owlets are apparently getting quite adventurous and again left the barn conversion provision last night, only to return this morning.
More mysterious is the appearance of an unringed bird at the nestbox that has visited the last four mornings, only to leave again shortly afterwards. A third adult or a newly dispersing juvenile?
28th - more exciting news! This is the email received from the landowner overnight;
"Tuesday evening for the first time one young owl surveyed the world from the safety of their entrance/exit hole. Last evening both appeared and ventured out on to the perch, weaving constantly and looking very precarious. Then just before dark one suddenly took flight, speedily followed by the second. I did not see them again. They certainly did not perch on anything in the close vicinity to the buildings. However both are safely back in the box this am."
The eldest owlet is 10 weeks old tomorrow so this behaviour is much as expected. It won't therefore be long before the owlets start dispersing into the wider landscape.
27th - the male delicately pulled apart a cached food item this morning about 8.30am, eating only small pieces of a small mammal over a number of minutes.
Unusually he has spent the majority of the day in the nestbox rather than on the beams in the barn today.
22nd - the landowner reports that the two owlets have now become very active during the day as well as at night. Both fly up on to the roost beam and 'leap ' across the box base flapping and exercising their wings, creating a mini fluff storm as they go!
7th - the male now seems to have established a routine of roosting in the barn or nestbox during the day and has been providing day-time viewers with some prolonged, good views. However, we've all been somewhat surprised at how much time he spends awake and active (looking and moving around the barn, and regularly getting in and out of the nestbox). This is particularly surprising bearing in mind how busy he's been feeding both the female and his two owlets. It is fairly rare to see typical roosting behaviour like this so we feel rather privileged to witness this behaviour.
22nd - Hooray, finally something for the daytime viewers! We have the male roosting in the barn nestbox this morning. According to the landowner, the male goes into the barn most evenings before he goes out hunting, so evening viewers may have been seeing him regularly. As the owlets get older, the female may well join the male to roost in the barn nestbox.
9th - The landowner today confirmed that there are 2 owlets in the nest. There were 5 eggs laid originally so we are unsure as yet what has happened with the other 3 eggs. At that moment we can only assume that these 3 eggs were infertile.
1st - Having spoken to the landowner today, he thinks that there are 2 owlets in the nest in the roof space of the barn conversion. However, the webcam he has in there has been moved slightly by the birds so he can't see the whole nest space clearly. He is hoping to sort it out soon and will clarify how many chicks there are.
10th - the landowner informs us that the pair have laid a clutch of 5 eggs, the first due to hatch in about 10 days time, on or around the 20th May. We will of course keep you informed of developments.
21st - Fabulous news! The landowner reports that the female has started laying a clutch of eggs, the first on Monday 18th and the second yesterday on Wednesday 20th April. Unfortunately, it’s not in the Barn Owl Trust nestbox, but it’s fantastic news nevertheless and is not a great surprise as both birds are new to the site this year, and changes in nest place often occur during such changeovers.
The nest place the birds have chosen this year is the roof space of the landowner’s barn conversion. Sympathetic barn conversion developments can often guarantee sites for future generations of Barn Owls as long as the correct sequence of events is followed. The conversion of a traditional agricultural building is far more preferable than a building falling into disrepair and dereliction due to neglect. For more information on Barn Owls and rural developments, please follow the link to the right.
There’s already a camera in the roof space of the barn conversion where the birds are nesting, although it doesn’t belong to the Barn Owl Trust. However, we’re very much hoping to be able to stream an image of the nest place either in a little while or later in the breeding season. Watch this space!
19th - things are still very quiet at the moment. We have had a few reports of a single owl seen in the barn, but they don't appear to be using the box at the moment. We would still like to hear from anyone who has any activity to report; firstname.lastname@example.org
12th - unusually, we've received virtually no reports of any activity over the last few days. We would of course be interested to receive any observations of Barn Owls, however brief, either in the nestbox or in the barn; email@example.com
7th - little of note the last couple of days, although one of the owls brought a Field Vole into the nestbox on Tuesday night, where it lay for a short time before disappearing, presumably having been consumed by the same or another owl.
4th - Although the birds are not currently in the barn, we have received reports that they were present over the weekend. Again, a third owl was seen and a ‘scuffle’ even took place on Sunday night. Did anyone else witness this?
According to the farmer, the pair are currently roosting in a barn conversion elsewhere on the site.
For our overseas viewers, the adjacent link provides sunrise/sunset times for Plymouth (nearest city)
1st - the first morning for a while that we were greeted by no owls in the nestbox nor the barn. Could viewers let us know the time (BST if possible) that they last noticed an owl in either the box or barn? Also, we have had a few reports in over the last week of three owls being seen. If anyone could get a good screen shot of that, we would be very interested to see it.
We have noticed one bird in the barn this morning - a robin. S/he has been hopping around on top of the nestbox and tray finding some tasty tidbits by the looks of it!
31st AM - A fallen cable seems to be obscuring Nestcam so one of the conservation team will be heading to the site later today. Both the male and female have been roosting in and around the nestbox on a regular basis.
PM - The issue with the cable has now been resolved. Whilst on site, our Head of Conservation weighed and then ringed the birds. We can now confirm that both of the birds are new to the site. They have also been colour ringed for easier identification; Male - Black ring on left leg, Female - Orange (appears grey on Nestcam) also on left leg. Unfortunately, they are both significantly underweight and so not yet in breeding condition. The female, in particular, is more than 15% lighter than would be expected if she was in breeding condition. With the recent mild weather, we're hoping that prey numbers will start to increase shortly.
28th - At 1.20pm the male owl entered the nestbox and copulated with the female.
We have had many reports over the weekend of two birds being present in the nestbox and/or in the barn. The two birds have also been seen copulating in the nestbox and the male now appears to have taken to roosting in the barn during the day whilst the female is roosting in the nestbox. This new development is a promising sign...
25th - we are still seeing the female in the barn regularly, either in the nestbox or out on the beam. There appears to be a few fresh pellets in the box and a viewer watching last night noticed her "scratching in the nestbox for about 10 minutes." This is a positive sign that she may be breaking up pellets and preparing a shallow scrape in which to eventually lay eggs.
23rd - a Barn Owl is in the barn for the 8th consecutive day. The landowner also reports having seen the pair copulating recently. If you do see the pair in or around the nestbox please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
21st - we apologise for the loss of the webcams over the weekend and we are currently working to try and fix the problem. We can confirm though that the female was in the nestbox this morning and, as usual, went to roost on one of the beams around mid-morning.
18th - the female was in the nestbox this morning but has now moved to roost on one of the beams in the barn.
17th - the presumed female is again in the nestbox this morning. As before, she vacated the box around lunchtime, preferring to roost on one of the beams in the barn.
A viewer from the USA reports much activity by two birds in the nestbox at about 3.00am GMT this morning, with the female being incredibly vocal in the nestbox.
16th - for the second consecutive day, there is a Barn Owl at roost in the nestbox. Yesterday she moved out of the nestbox to roost on the beam during the afternoon.
15th - for the second day since the summer, a bird is at roost in the nestbox this morning. Last night the 'pair' were apparently in the nestbox, where the presumed female was making a lot of noise until just after 8.00pm. We would of course be grateful for any observations of the pair together including (pre-)breeding behaviour, such as vocalisations, bill-touching etc. Many thanks.
14th - only one bird reported in the nestbox on Saturday night but two together last night; one in the box and the other on a beam, with some vocalisations.
9th - there is a Barn Owl at roost in the nestbox this morning. This is the first time that a bird has spent any daylight hours there since last summer, and can only be good news.
Prolonged views of the legs around lunchtime show that this bird, believed possibly to be the female, is unringed.
7th - many thanks to all those who sent us some encouraging reports over the weekend. Apparently, two birds were seen together in the barn on Saturday 5th, one in the nestbox and the other outside. Some courtship behaviour was observed, with bill touching, food begging calls and pellet shredding in the nestbox. Since breeding relies on the female being in tip-top condition, we assume that the winter weather has been hard on her and she's not yet reached breeding condition. However, the fact that courtship has been observed is exciting, raising hopes that the pair will eventually 'get it on', as it were.
4th - more reports were received of only a single bird in the barn overnight, which entered the nestbox and apparently 'tidied up a bit', before sitting and preening on the beams nearby.
3rd - a viewer from the USA reports the presence of two birds in the early hours of this morning; one in the barn and the other in the nestbox, apparently being very vocal. This is exciting news, raising hopes that the second bird is still around and interested! Please do let us know if you see any action.
2nd - sadly no reports of any Barn Owls in the barn over the last couple of nights.
28th - several reports have been received over the weekend of what appears to be our resident Barn Owl, with no sign of the mystery second bird;
Friday 25th - roosting on one of the back beams in the barn, from about 8.30pm until about 10pm. It entered the box briefly, seemed to have a look around then spent the rest of its time on a beam having a preen.
Saturday 26th -seen preening again on beam in barn after dark.
Sunday 27th - preening on front beam in barn at about 6.35pm until about 9.20pm, when it flew off.
It would be interesting to know if anyone has seen whether this bird is ringed. We'd be grateful for any reports if anyone notices a ring when the bird is next in the nestbox.
24th - despite some streaming problems over the last couple of days, a Barn Owl was at roost on the beams in the barn early evening last night. However, both Barncam and Nestcam are back up and running so please let us know if you see any activity around the nestbox this weekend.
23rd - both birds were in the barn again last night, apparently on the beams.
21st - two birds were again reported in the barn last night.
19th - for the first time since before Christmas, two Barn Owls were observed on Saturday night in the barn; the presumed female in the nestbox calling, with the presumed male outside on the tray.
Despite this being fabulous news, we're being cautious about the chances of another successful breeding season, as there's no guarantee that the new arrival will hang around, or even if it does, that there will be enough food for a breeding attempt or even that the nestbox will suit it.