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Yew View Tawny Update

For the last three years, I have been filming a wonderful pair of tawny owls who nest in a box that I designed for them, at YewView.

I have captured some amazing videos of them raising their families and I always look forward to their breeding season. There is a playlist of last year's footage if you'd like to check it out, but here is one of my favourites....

During our first lockdown, hornets started building in their nest box. By the time I got back to the site, this nest was huge and there are a few individuals still active. I don't fancy going up a very high ladder yet to remove it. The nest will die off after we have some cold weather, but because they can't get in, the pair are prospecting elsewhere.

We have two other owl boxes on site and they have used both as day roosts in the past. They were showing a lot of interest in one box, which was actually designed for barn owls. We call it Owl Mansion! When I realised that they may choose this for their new nest box, I quickly installed a new camera. I am still awaiting delivery of a microphone for this new camera, but the footage is looking ok.... not as good as the other box, but at least I can film them if this turns out to be their breeding box.

We also have a pan, tilt zoom (PTZ) camera at the end of the site, that can see the entrance. This box is in a very quiet location, over looking the Severn, so they feel comfortable sitting out on the veranda during daylight, which is fabulous!

The tawnies have been visiting several times a week. Often they call to each other and sometimes they 'paddle', laying down and kicking at the substrate 'testing' it out for suitability.

There are no lights in this box, unlike the main box. If there is enough light coming in from the entrance, this Hikvision dome camera will be in colour. If not, then the IR LEDs switch on and the footage is in black and white.

In the wild, tawnies will sometimes take wood from the inside of a tree hollow and this can provide them with some substrate to sit on. I put a deep bed of rough wood chips and this box also have some remnants of nesting materials from stock doves nesting.

It was great to see the pair at the box. This does not look like last year's male. It is much paler. Maybe something happened to her last mate and this is a new partner....

This face preening helps to reinforce the bonds between a pair. I have seen it in barn owls as well....

There is a lot of competition for good nesting spaces and we always have squirrels trying to use them too. The tawny was not impressed and was obviously roosting nearby ...

I hope that I can clear the first box in the next month or so. Prospecting begins now, but increases in December as these owls breed early in the year. I can't wait to watch another tawny family raised at Yew View!


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