For many of us, watching the live cameras from the Yew View tawny box has become a daily obsession. It is difficult not to get 'attached' to wild birds on live cameras when you follow them for so long. This intimate view of their lives enables you to feel that you have got to know them and that you understand how their lives operate, in a way that is often invisible to us.
Having live cameras such as these has made me appreciate the natural world even more and to be more attentive to what is happening around me. There are so many wildlife stories happening right on our doorstep and many of us are totally oblivious to them! I hope that anyone who has watched this story evolve will now have a much better understanding of the life of a tawny owl. I know I have learnt SO much in the 4 years I have watched their story unfold. It has been a true pleasure to be able to share it this year.
Nyx's final week in the nest box showed that she was very ready to leave the confines of the box and face the outside world. Some tawnies will branch into the trees earlier than she has, especially if the nesting space is small and cramped and there are a few of them inside. I designed this box to ensure there could be no accidents where the owlets fell out of the box before they were really ready to go (often jostling for food at the entrance). The depth of the box and the veranda has meant that we have been treated to wonderful views, both inside and out.
With the days getting longer, I was treated to some lovely footage of Aluco outside the box in the early mornings....
She is so beautiful and I never tire of looking at her, especially in daylight!
Nyx was getting stronger by the day and there were several sessions a day of wing stretching and flapping, building up those muscles and showing off her well developed wing feathers..
It wasn't long before she had half flow, half clambered up to the entrance hole. For the first few days, she was content to just sit in the safety of the hole and take in the big wide world outside!
There were some early morning food deliveries, mainly rats and Aluco would still feed her these large meals. This clip is quite graphic for anyone of a queasy disposition!
Nyx's fine motor skills, with those big feet, were improving......
Her feet and talons will be her essential hunting tools and it is good to get to grips with what they are capable of doing, whilst still safe in the nest box!
After a couple of days of just looking out, Nyx took the plunge and jumped onto the platform for the first time!
It must be quite daunting to be outside the security of the box and it was great to see her confidence grow over the coming days.....
Sometimes, after walking around for a while, she would lay down in the hole entrance. This clip of her really made me smile as she looks like some weird alien creature!
Aluco would return early evening or early morning, often leaving her now during the day.
Sometimes, prey was brought back to the platform and eaten there. Again, there are some quite graphic images of the rat being eaten, in this clip.
Depending on her stance, Nyx could morph into a completely different bird... from a small round powder puff of an owl, to a tall narrow version as in this clip, when she was a little nervous of something she could see outside. This is generally the pose they take on when in the trees after branching...
She was soon exploring the platform with increasing confidence...
Her skills at handling prey took on a new level, as she was now able to hold the prey in her talons and tear off smaller parts. Even when she had a mouse that she could have easily swallowed whole, it was interesting that she seemed to practise this skill in the box.
Aluco would still return a couple of times a day and it was always so lovely to see the affection between them although, as the week went on, Nyx was more like an embarrassed teenager who's mum gives them too much attention!
Even if she was not in the box, Aluco was obviously not far away and was keeping watch on the box. This squirrel came to investigate...
Owls tend to eat their prey whole if it is small enough. Generally, hey will only tear up prey that is too large to swallow. This means that there are a lot of indigestible parts, such as feathers, fur and bone. These materials are compacted and ejected as a pellet. I love finding owl pellets and dissecting them as they are a little time-capsule of information... telling you what the owl ate in the last 24 hrs or so. You can ID the species by the often complete skulls and other bones inside... it's fascinating!
This clip shows her coughing up a quite huge pellet... an indication of the large amount of food she has been consuming!
Nyx was increasingly mobile on the platform. At night, as soon as it was dark, she would pace up and down, flapping her wings and almost falling off at times. They are pretty clumsy at this age! She was often out early mornings and I knew her time here was nearly over. She was fit, healthy and ready to embark on the next part of her journey to adulthood.
On the evening of the 28th May, 32 days after she hatched, she left the box! It was not the dramatic glide off into the distance I had hoped for... more a little jump onto the box that housed the camera, then up onto the top of the box.
By the morning, she had disappeared. I had really hoped that I would be able to find her in the trees. It would have been the final piece in the jigsaw, to have photographed her out in the garden. Despite spending time searching all the branches in as many trees as I could, I simply could not find her! They are incredibly hard to locate as they are so well camouflaged and they sit so still. We will keep looking for her. She will move around the site and remain relatively local, with Strix and Aluco continuing to feed her.
Here are a couple of shots from 2019, where I was lucky enough to find the owlet in the trees.
You can see how fluffy there are when they branch. They often fall to the ground at this stage and clamber back up into trees. The adults are never far away. Understandably, people find them on the floor and think they have been abandoned. If you do ever find a tawny owlet on the ground and it appears unharmed, then just move it to safety if you think it is in danger. You can place it up on a branch in a tree of a bush. The parents will return to it at dusk. Sadly, many are taken to rescue centres when they should have been left in the wild.
I have been privileged to be able to share the story of this family and I know, from all the messages and emails that I have received, that these cameras have given lots of people a lot of joy in what has been a most difficult year.
I am pretty sure I will be back next year... this time with audio and even better footage... fingers crossed!
I have one more video montage to complete, of her growing up, but it may take me a few more days to complete.
Hopefully, you will stay around for the blue tit family as they are due to hatch anytime... and the teapot robins look like they may be starting again as the female was topping up the nesting materials today! Thank
you for all your support and wonderful messages on all my social media platforms. It has been a pleasure sharing our Yew View tawny owls with you all!