About the Barn Owl
Nestcam Diary 2012
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11th - this morning saw two birds in the nestbox together for their second day, indulging in some mutual preening.
26th - still at least one bird in and around the barn and nestbox since the beginning of the month.
1st - the pair is in the nestbox this morning.
31st - the month ended very much as it began with one or both birds still in or around the nestbox. Some pair-bonding has also been reported recently.
3rd - only one bird is in the barn today, although two were preening each other in the nest box yesterday.
27th - rather conveniently, the birds stayed away for the day yesterday whilst essential maintenance was carried out, but are now back in the barn. We're hoping you'll notice an improvement in the image . . .
25th - for the first time in months, there are no owls in the nestbox or in the barn today. Seems like good timing therefore to carry out some essential maintenance works tomorrow, Wednesday 26th September, during which time the cameras will be turned off.
21st - apologies for the streaming problems we've been experiencing recently. Still two birds in the barn today...
10th - more pair-bonding occurred over the weekend, but this morning only one bird is in the nestbox/barn.
5th - two unringed birds have been at roost in the nestbox for most of this week and we think they're probably the resident adults. Some pair-bonding behaviour has also been observed.
22nd - it looks like the youngest of the brood has finally left the confines of the barn, as only an unringed individual is currently viewable in the nestbox this morning.
20th - reports received over the weekend describe 3 owls in the nestbox on Sunday morning. However, photographs seem to show two of the three unringed, suggesting the parents are back after an absence or these are possibly dispersing youngsters from elsewhere.
Two owls are in the nestbox this morning, and only one of them is ringed. The ringed youngster was at roost on a beam in the barn but entered the box mid-morning. There was a brief confrontation with the unringed bird already in the nestbox before they settled down to roost. They're both still in the nestbox at 11.45am.
16th - the presumed youngest owlet is still in the barn this morning.
13th - reports over the weekend confirm that dispersal seems to have finally got underway. Two owlets were in the nestbox and later in the barn on Saturday 11th, whilst only one owlet was present yesterday and is still in the nestbox again this morning.
9th - all three owlets are in the nestbox today.
7th - it looked like all three owlets were still in the barn and, at times, in the nestbox yesterday. A quick check this morning has revealed all three again still in the barn, sitting on a beam to the left of the nestbox. Incidentally, the eldest is 14 weeks old today.
30th - all three owlets are at roost in the nestbox this morning.
23rd - all three owlets were at roost in the nestbox yesterday around late afternoon and are today at roost just visible behind the nestbox via Barncam.
18th - all three owlets are in the barn rather than in the nestbox again this morning. At just over 11 weeks old, the eldest will soon be approaching time for dispersal, which occurs typically at 11-14 weeks of age.
17th - all three owlets are on the beams in the barn viewable via Barncam this morning.
10th - reports received this morning describe the youngest owlet 'fluttering' around on some of the beams yesterday evening. This is definitely progress as we hadn't had similar reports of the youngest doing this before. More good news was seen this morning at 08:00am in the form of two small mammals, cached in the nestbox with all three owlets. There was no squabbling when one of the owlets started breakfast, so presumably they're all getting enough food, which is encouraging in this appalling weather.
9th - all three owlets are still in the nestbox this morning but it shouldn't be long before we start seeing more erratic attendance from the elder siblings.
6th - another report has been received of an elder sibling bringing food into the nestbox for the youngest, at 4.45 this morning. This would indicate that there's sufficient food for all three owlets as this is unlikely to happen if food was in short supply. In fact, a small mammal is clearly visible in the middle of the nestbox at 8.30am.
3rd - another report received this morning that one of the elder owlets fed a small mammal to the youngest sibling at about 11pm last night.
2nd - at 3.30pm the youngest owlet exited the box again. Both its siblings were flying freely around the barn, and one of them flew up to the tray to meet it.
An eventful weekend. The presumed eldest owlet was on the floor of the barn early morning of the 1st before finding its way back to the tray. Later the same day, the youngest eventually made it out onto the tray of the nestbox and all three siblings were visible via Barncam for the first time this year. The youngest had previously been fed by one of its siblings inside the nestbox - an interesting aspect of behaviour we have recorded from Nestcam in previous years.
26th - the owlets are back in the nestbox this morning after two of them made it out onto the tray last night. Surely the youngest is soon to follow their example . . . All three owlets were seen consuming small mammals in the nestbox yesterday morning.
22nd - as if on cue, the eldest owlet was seen making several unsuccessful attempts at exiting the nestbox last night before finally making it out onto the tray at 11.45pm. The others are now sure to follow soon.
21st - as we reach the Summer Solstice, we find the three owlets still huddled together in the nestbox. At over 7 weeks of age, we should soon start seeing attempts at exiting the nestbox, a precursor to the intial stages of fledging.
18th - one of our viewers reports 8 food deliveries in three hours last night at the following times; 12:27, 12:40, 12:57, 1:37, 2:19, 3:00, 3:12 and 3:25. This is great news and is likely to represent only a proportion of the total number of deliveries that came in overnight.
14th - we visited the site yesterday and removed the dead owlet. The three survivors were all fitted with BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) ring giving each of them a unique identifier so that we can trace them if they are ever handled again – see link on right for more information on BTO ringing.
Each of the owlets was weighed and measured before being returned to the nestbox. The oldest two, both female, were a reasonable weight for their age but “Tiddly”, the smallest of the three was a bit lighter than we would have liked so we left half a dozen small mammals in the box. Their weights were – oldest 389gms, middle owlet 392gms and Tiddly 280gms.
We also arranged to have the sound on the nestcam fixed and last night it was good to see and hear them all behaving quite normally and totally unconcerned by our visit and their new rings.
With another front of bad weather predicted for the weekend we can only hope that the adults can get out and find enough food for these three to fledge.
11th - owlet number 4 died on or before Friday 8th. The appallingly wet and windy weather we have been experiencing recently no doubt stopped the parents from foraging successfully, and the small amount of food that did come in would cerainly have gone to the eldest, biggest owlet(s). It is terribly sad that this happens, but is not uncommon in Barn Owls. Hopefully now the remaining three owlets will have an even greater chance of survival.
6th - all four owlets were clearly visible this afternoon in the nestbox. Please do let us know if you see any of them out on the tray by emailing Nestcam@barnowltrust.org.uk. Many thanks.
28th - we received several reports that the youngest owlet died on Sunday afternoon but was quickly 'recycled' by the other owlets. We don't think this is particularly common as it's the first time it's happened since we started streaming Nestcam 4 years ago (3 fatalities out of 10 owlets in 2008, 2009 and 2010). We don't think this happened as a result of food shortage, as there was a cached small mammal in the nestbox at the time.
It's not unusual for Barn Owl nestlings to die in the nest, and this, plus the fact it was consumed by the other owlets, probably increases their chances of survival.
25th - the owlets look like they're rather warm this afternoon and can clearly be seen lying down and/or panting to keep themselves cool. Barn Owls are a cosmopolitan species, inhabiting every continent on Earth except the poles so our currently rather sultry temperatures in the high 20s aren't a patch on the significantly higher temperatures elsewhere in the world.
Many thanks to all those who responded to our request for an owlet count. The general consensus seems to be that we have 5 owlets now; whether we had 6 last week is probably a moot point.
The owlets are growing rapidly with a good supply of small mammal prey. This is being brought in by both parents, now that the owlets are old enough to keep themselves warm. In fact, it looks like the female has chosen to roost elsewhere today as she is not in the nestbox this morning.
22nd - now that the cameras are back up and running we'd be grateful for any confirmation of owlet numbers, as we've had one or two reports that Egg 7 may have hatched at the end of last week. If you do get a good count of the owlets please do email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Many thanks
21st - apologies for the loss of vision, we are currently experiencing streaming problems and are trying hard to resolve this problem.
16th - it would seem that Egg 6 and Egg 7 failed to hatch, which means we have a fine brood of five. Food doesn't appear to be a problem either, with a cache of small mammals in the nestbox. Apologies for the interruptions in streaming, the result of an as yet inexplicable technical problem.
14th - reports this morning of two eggs visible in the nestbox tend to indicate that Egg 6 has failed to hatch. However, Egg 7 may still be viable and is due to hatch some time today, so we may yet have more owlets. An impressive food cache in the nestbox this morning consisted of at least 4 small mammals, one of which was fed to the young mid-morning.
11th - reports of only 2 eggs visible yesterday afternoon have raised hopes that Egg 5 has hatched. Due to the female's diligence at brooding the young, we have yet to see all five owlets but hope to do so in the near future. Egg 6 is due some time time tomorrow.
8th - 1.45pm update; we have just had our first view of the four owlets with three eggs yet to hatch!
1.05pm update; the female got up long enough to reveal only 3 eggs, which means that Egg 4 has already hatched, although no confirmed sightings of all four owlets have yet been received.
Egg 3 reportedly hatched some time overnight on the 5th/6th but has so far been difficult to see. The female has been feeding this morning and appears to be surrounded by small mammals, with at least 3 visible and perhaps more in the nestbox. Egg 4, if it does hatch, is due some time today if it hasn't already done so.
4th - Egg 2 reportedly hatched some time before 10pm last night and both chicks have been visible on odd occasions throughout the day today, when the female has stood up for a stretch. At least two small mammals were cached inside the nestbox this morning, a thoroughly good sign that the male is doing his bit. Next one is due late tomorrow or early Sunday.
2nd - the female was seen tearing up a prey item and feeding the owlet at 1.40pm, almost exactly twenty-four hours after we first noticed that the egg had hatched. This may well have been the owlet's first food as young birds continue to absorb nourishment from their yolk sacs for several hours or even days after hatching.
1st - the first signs that Egg 1 may have hatched were recorded at 1.40pm today, when pieces of egg shell were noticed. At 1.55pm the female was moving egg shell around so I think it's safe to assume we have our first arrival!!!!! No views yet of the owlet as probably tucked firmly under the female but we'll keep our eyes peeled.
3.55pm update - good first views of our newly arrived hatchling just now as the female got up to find a cached food item, which didn't appear to be in the nestbox with her earlier. Is the male caching food on the tray outside or is he foraging in daylight?
30th - with the first egg due to hatch some time this week, all attention is on the incubating female. We are keen to record exactly when the eggs hatch so if you're lucky enough to witness any of these events please do let us know by emailing;
20th - at 4.25pm, the female consumed a small mammal cached in the nestbox.
19th - it's now 5 days since the last addition to the clutch so now that laying is complete here's a rough guide to when to expect hatching. Incubation usually takes between 31 and 33 days but we've used 32 days as a guide;
Due (32 days incubation)
At about 2.15pm the female consumed a small mammal that had been cached in the nestbox.
16th - reports received over the weekend suggest our 7th egg was laid some time before 7pm on Saturday 14th April, with further copulation occurring thereafter.
A small mammal can clearly be seen cached directly in front of the incubating female this morning.
13th - copulation occurred this morning just after 9.00am, having been recorded yesterday during the afternoon and again in the evening, although this may simply be reinforcement of the pair bond. If there is to be an addition to the clutch, it should be due later today or tomorrow.
12th - reports have been received overnight that a SIXTH EGG was laid yesterday evening some time before 9.20pm - fabulous news!
10th - reports of copulation this morning at 10.08am and then again at 11.03am raise hopes of a sixth egg which, if we're lucky enough to get another, should be due some time tomorrow. A small mammal was cached in the nestbox early this morning, which the female tucked into; another good sign.
Incidentally, we're soon approaching publication of our book, the Barn Owl Conservation Handbook (Pelagic Publishing), which we've been working on for over 2 years now - it's just about to go off to the printers so should be available in June for all those with an interest in all aspects of Barn Owl conservation. Apologies for the shameless plug!
9th - FIFTH EGG! With only 4 eggs on view yesterday evening, the new addition to the clutch was clearly visible this morning, having been laid some time overnight.
8th - the male has obviously been working hard overnight, as there is a food cache consisting of at least 2 small mammals clearly visible in the nestbox this morning.
7th - great news! Reports of a fourth egg have now been verified. We think this was laid some time overnight or early this morning. That being the case, if there is to be a fifth egg, it's due late Sunday or Monday.
5th - some of you may have noticed that the cameras were down for a little while, but the problem seems to have been corrected.
We can report that there is now a third egg! It was laid sometime before 8.15pm last night.
3rd - both parents are in the nestbox this morning and copulation is still occurring (11.58am). Third egg is due some time late Wednesday/early Thursday 4th/5th April.
At about 3.40pm the male suddenly appeared in the nestbox with what looked like a Wood Mouse, which he proceeded to tear up and eat in front of the female, despite her obvious interest.
2nd - FIRST EGG! Avid Nestcam viewers report our first egg, laid at some time before mid-day on Saturday 31st March. This is some 18 days earlier than the average for southwest England and is hopefully the first of several more to come. Eggs are usually laid at 2-3 day intervals so start looking for an addition anytime between Monday morning and Tuesday afternoon.
MID-AFTERNOON UPDATE - reports of a second egg have just been received, laid some time around 3.15pm!
26th - copulation in the nestbox appears to have become a daily occurrence in recent days, raising hopes of a breeding attempt. However, there does not appear to be any food cache visible in the nestbox as far as we can see, so this male may have to raise his game in the near future if successful nesting is to take place.
Interestingly, we are pretty sure these two birds are different from the 2011 pair, as neither appears to be ringed. We think the 2011 female went missing towards the end of the breeding cycle last summer, but was replaced within a few weeks by another female. Similarly, our 2011 male seemed to go missing this year in the late winter period but was replaced, within a few days, by this male.
20th - plenty of reports over the last couple of days of pre-breeding behaviour, including some pellet shredding, nest debris scraping, mutual preening and copulation.
1st - both birds again viewable in the nestbox or on the tray outside this morning. Pre-breeding behaviour continues, with mutual preening and attempted copulation on at least a couple of occasions in recent days.
28th - some interesting behavioural developments this afternoon included the presumed female picking up and shredding pellets, and scraping the debris with her feet. This was followed by some prolonged mutual preening (although the presumed male wasn't being as enthusiastic as the presumed female).
This is typical pre-breeding behaviour and is a very encouraging sign, although we shall have to wait and see whether this is the start of something altogether more exciting.
LATEST UPDATE 16.35GMT - copulation was attempted, albeit unsuccessfully!
22nd - both birds are in and around the nestbox again today, viewable from Nestcam and Barncam.
20th - after a request for information, we've been literally inundated with reports of two Barn Owls over the weekend viewable via Barncam and/or Nestcam. Many thanks to all those who emailed.
We're not sure whether one of these birds is a new arrival, so we're keeping a close eye on them. It shouldn't be long before we start to see pre-breeding behaviour - fingers crossed they're a pair!
14th - still only one bird about. It may be that the other bird is in the nearby barn conversion but as yet we've been unable to confirm this. If you see both birds together please do let us know by emailing email@example.com.
10th - only one bird has been about these last few days and this is very unusual for this site.
27th - the pair is again in the barn today, sitting on the tray almost all day and viewable on Barncam.
20th - both back in the nestbox this afternoon.
19th - only one bird in the nestbox/barn today.
10th - as usual, both birds are again on show, viewable in the nestbox via Nestcam or on the beams in the barn via Barncam.
4th - the new year has begun very much as last year ended, with both birds at roost in the nestbox this morning.