We Have Barn Owls in our Barn!

Barn Owls (Tyto alba) are a species of conservation concern in the UK, so being given the chance to change their fortunes albeit very slightly and locally was not an opportunity we were prepared to pass up.

Some while ago the nice people from The Hawk Conservancy popped over to the farm to install a nest box in one of our high barns.   The goal was to encourage the Barn Owls that had been seen flying around the farm, to rear young in a place where they would be relatively safe and there was clearly a guaranteed food source.

Barn Owls are low flying predators and prefer open farmland with abundant hedgerows, edge of woodland with field margins left alongside hedgerows.  They feed on small mammals such as short-tailed voles, mice, shrews and small rats – just what you would expect to find scurrying around a farm with open tracts of rough un-grazed grassland and acres of wildflower meadow turf.

A few weeks ago, and with great anticipation on our part, The Hawk Conservancy returned to see whether Mr & Mrs Barn Owl had decided it was a Des. Res. and had set up house in there.  To our great delight they had done more than that, they had laid a couple of eggs.

So imagine our enchantment today when Sam Hunt of the Hawk Conservancy returned to check their progress.  One charming 3 week old chick with the fattest tummy, a clear sign of plentiful food, was proudly presented ready for ringing.  Sam told us the chick was a little young to see whether it was a boy or girl but the fact that it was clearly well fed and healthy was all we really cared about.

Sam weighed this fluffy specimen and we were told it was the same weight as its mother, around 30 grams and heavier than its father. Wow, what a bruiser!

We have a nifty little fact for you: Did you know that Barn Owls mate for life?  Well they do, which means that next year, because Mrs Barn Owl quite liked our next box she will probably use it again.  How cool would that be!

We also thought you might like to see this bruiser of a barn owl baby, so we took a picture.  Ahhhh!

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