After last week's interest in one of the owl boxes, there have been quite a lot of dramas. The jackdaws were also very keen on this box and became quite aggressive towards the little owls, chasing them off on a number of occasions. Denis attempted to put them off by creating a tunnel at the back of the box, in order to access the box space. This stopped the jackdaws taking in sticks and claiming the box. The little owls could easily get down the tunnel.
Despite this, the jackdaws still kept dominating the box and were becoming more aggressive.
The little owls had not taken a look at the other box we had put up for them at the end of last year. I think the constant mobbing eventually drove them elsewhere and , luckily for us, it was straight into this box. The second box has a small tunnel entrance and the jackdaws do not seem to approve.
Initially, Denis had mounted a Birdsy cam inside the box. In this way, we could easily monitor visits. Once we realised that the owls were considering the box, we swapped to a HiLook mini PTZ cam, so we could link the camera into the monitoring system. It would also record 24-7 in HD. Thank you Denis, for balancing up a ladder, to swap the cameras over, at short notice. We needed to act fast with this much interest in the box!
We were delighted to have both owls visit on a number of occasions. They showed some very promising behaviour. Face preening, calling, looking around the box and 'paddling', testing out the substrate in the nest box.
I have never filmed little owls inside a nest box. It will be great to study a new species. Already, I can see very similar behaviours to the tawny owls. The one difference is how vocal they are! They are very noisy, using all sorts of chirrups and hoot calls. There is a lot of conversation going on between them, especially when one owl is on the outside of the box.
For the last few days, they have been in and out the box, on the kestrel box (using it for a hunting post) and even hunting down at the waterhole.
We felt it would be really good to have a camera on the outside of this box too. If they do breed here, it would be excellent to be able to see them bringing in prey and also, if we have owlets, it would be fab to see them emerging from the box. Denis is going to attempt to get an external cam set up in the next few days.
If they do breed, they usually lay in April. They most commonly lay 3-4 eggs. They incubate for 27-29 days and fledge between 30-35 days.
Keep your fingers crossed. We are both very excited about following these two owls.