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Barn Owl Update

With January just about over, I am thrilled to say that my barn owls continue to be regular visitors in the box! It has been about 3 weeks now. Despite checking out my kestrel box and 2 of my tawny boxes, they seem to have decided that this box is the best option and are spending increasing amounts of time here. Some evenings, they have appeared before 6pm and also been here as late as 6.30am. This suggests that they are roosting quite close, especially as some early evenings have been when it has been horrible rainy weather. I would love to know where these 2 are roosting in the day…. and wonder how long it will be before they choose to roost here.

It is so wonderful to be able to watch these two every night and the first thing I do in the morning is to check and see what has been recorded over night. I try to save clips of any new behaviour I see and these are uploaded to my YouTube Channel on my Barn Owl Playlist. For me, this is a steep learning curve. I am not familiar with barn owl behaviour and have been trying to find out as much as I can. There is nothing better for learning, though, than watching it all unfold before your my eyes… actually in a box in my garden!

Cam10 2014-01-18 00-22-51.192

This week, I have captured some lovely clips of different behaviours… from preening to mating (or attempted!)  in the box.  I am still having issues with a hum on the audio and despite changing some settings, it is still there. I am going to try a different, slightly more powerful power unit, as it could be that there is a bit of a voltage drop as the box is quite far away from the house. Hopefully, I will be able to improve this in the future.

This first clip shows Alba, the female, investigating the substrate I put on the floor. It is a mix of about a quarter course shavings, mixed with some rough cut shredded wood and bark.  Barn owls do not make a nest, as such. They will shred pellets that have been regurgitated in the box and use these to form a  base. I am hoping this substrate will give them a bit of a head start and the female seemed to be picking larger  sections up and shredding these….

Barn owls mate for life, so it is important that they build up the bond. We have no idea where this pair are from or whether they are a new or established couple. Neither are ringed. This week I have seen lots of preening between the pair and they also touch beaks a lot, coupled with quiet, chattering calls. I have also witnessed some attempted mating in the box this week. It is all promising behaviour!

It was also great to see Tyto, the male, spending a while preening and showing off his wing feathers. Considering the vile wet winter we have had, these two look in pretty good condition.

What I am trying to decide now, is whether to put a camera up on the outside of the box. The HD Vivotek cameras that you see on my feeder are superb quality both in the day and at night. It would be amazing to get one up on the outside of the box so we could see the owls coming in and out with food if they decide to breed. The problem is that these cameras are not cheep and I cannot be sure, yet, if these owls are going to breed here. I am thinking of running the Cat5 cable up the garden and putting in the bracket, in preparation. If everything looks promising later in the year, then maybe I will see if funds can stretch to another camera. I may also look at some sponsorship opportunities. There must be some local companies who would like to sponsor one of my live cameras, in return for advertisement. If you know someone who may be interested, then please let me know!

Let’s hope the next week brings more great views…. and at reasonable hours so we can all share the live footage. 

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