For anyone who has followed me for a while, the names, 'Strix' and 'Aluco' will be familiar to them. These are the names I gave to the Yew View Tawny owls who I have been filming for the last 4 years. In fact, Strix only joined Aluco 2 years ago. She had a different mate before then. Strix aluco is the latin name for the Tawny owl, hence my choice of names!
You can find out more about them and see footage from previous years on my website. This camera live streams and the link will take you to a page all about these beautiful birds.
You can watch them at: https://www.wildlifekate.co.uk/yew-view-tawny-owls
I have been filming the Yew View tawnies for the last 6 years or so and the box they are in was designed by me and purpose built, 4 years ago with the help from my friend, Dave. Inside are two Hikvision mini PTZ cameras, with microphones. There are also lights that operate on a sensor, so they come on in the day and go off at night. This means we have lovely colour footage in the daylight hours. These lights (as you can see) do not disturb the owls at all. In the wild, they will nest in all sorts of holes and crevices, many of which will let light inside the nesting chamber.
In 2020 and 2021, Aluco laid her first egg at the beginning of March. Last year, it was the 18th February. This year, she laid her first egg on January 29th. This is pretty early for Tawnies, but not unheard of. Yew View is full of rodents and there is an adequate food supply for her, even at this time of year.
Aluco has been roosting in the box during the day since November. Usually, she starts around December. Roosting there ensures that the box remains hers and is not taken over by other species, such as squirrels, stock doves or jackdaws. As we neared the end of the year, both owls regularly visited the box, calling each other and strengthening bonds.
Over the last few days, there has been a lot of activity in the box both during the day and at night. I had a feeling that something was imminent. Early evening, Aluco laid her first egg.
She will now lay every 2-3 days. The average clutch is 2-3 eggs, but this female has had up to 5 eggs! She will not incubate these properly until she has the penultimate egg. This ensures that they all hatch roughly around the same time. So, do not be alarmed if you see the eggs being left unattended. Aluco will leave the eggs for several hours at a time, during the night, as she hunts for herself. Strix should also start to bring food to her at night as well.
This morning, she left the box for a few hours in the morning, before returning to the box around half past 7. The cameras was still in night IR mode, but switched to daylight as she contemplated returning inside the box.
She then spent the whole day in the box. You can see that she is not actually incubating the egg, but generally standing above it. This clip gives us a great view of it.
Once Aluco has started incubating, it will be 30 days until they start to hatch. In that time, she will hardly leave the box. Strix will feed her and she will only leave the box for a short period of time to drink, toilet and stretch her wings.
This camera and the one on the outside of the box, will live stream on my website, so you can follow this story. I will try to capture and upload highlights to the YouTube Channel playlist and provide information here on my blog. Please do ask questions if you want to know any more about this wonderful pair.
I am very active on Twitter (@katemacrae) and most of my daily updates will be via this platform.