If you have been watching the live tawny cam over the last few weeks, you will have also been amazed at the incredible growth rate of Nyx, our tawny owlet. As a single owlet, the food has been prevalent and this owlet has had as much as she can eat... and she can certainly put it away!
At just over 2 weeks old, she started eating mice whole and now it is no problem to take the food delivery and tackle it alone....
It doesn't always quite go according to plan. A. mouse is usually eaten head first... but Nyx managed to get this one down tail first!
We don't often see Strix now as he just dangles to food in the entrance. On this occasion he came inside the box briefly before leaving and allowing Aluco to pas the mouse to Nyx....
When we have had multiple owlets in the past, the female has left them alone on the box during the day and roosted elsewhere. With this single owlet, it is interesting to see that Aluco has remained in the box. Maybe, on its own, it is more vulnerable to predation. The daylight interactions between these two are beautiful. Aluco spends a lot of time preening Aluco and there seems to be a great tenderness between the pair of them, which is so wonderful to watch.
Tawnies have surprisingly long legs. When hunting, their legs are thrust out in front of them to capture prey. If hunting in long grass, these long legs can be especially useful. Nyx often stretches, displaying her long legs and it always makes me smile!
As the days get longer, we are starting to get some daylight hunting sequences. Here, Strix delivers an early evening snack... and leaves pretty quickly!
Tawny owls will regularly predate nests. I have filmed them raiding jackdaw nests and blackbird nests. here, Aluco seems to bring in a pigeon or dove squab. She does the same the following night.
Over the next week or so, we will see Nyx get stronger and start to stretch, flap and climb around in the box. You will see her practise her owl head movements as she watches flies and other things in the nest box. She will start jumping, pouncing and picking up items. These are all skills she will need when she finally leaves the box and for when she eventually has to hunt for herself...
Also, watch out for her primary wing feathers developing. As soon as these are well developed, we can expect Nyx to start venturing outside the nest box. Tawny owlets branch into the trees before they can fly properly. They clamber up the branches, using their beaks and talons. This box is designed so premature departure is prevented as it is quite deep. I previous years, we had some fall out of the box after trying to get food from adults at the entrance. The depth of the box and a large patio area has prevented this.
Everything is looking good for Nyx. Strix and Aluco are providing everything she needs to grow healthily.