The weather has improved and the forecast is fairly good. Unfortunately,the smallest chick struggled to get its share of the food as it relied on the female to tear it up and sadly died overnight.
The two surviving chicks are doing well as the food supply is back on track. Their eyes have now opened and the oldest chick can be seen swallowing a vole whole on last night’s screenshot.
How fortunate we are to have this fascinating, intimate view into the lives, trials and tribulations of a barn owl family.
Viewers often worry about the apparent lack of sightings of the male. They need not worry. Evolution has evolved to provide incentives for him to bring in food on a regular basis. Not only does he see his family growing up he also gets to mate with the female when he brings in a vole or a mouse!
Obviously this is not to ensure more fertile eggs as they have all been laid. Quite simply it is her way of ensuring he continues to provision her and the chicks with prey.
Last night the weather had improved and food was brought in by the male.
We have lost two chicks during the recent bad weather but the forecast is for some better weather (fingers crossed!) and all three remaining chicks appear to be well.
The oldest chick is capable of swallowing prey whole but the other two will continue to have their food torn into smaller pieces by the female.
The male roosts away from the nest box for most of the day as the chicks would be begging for food if he was in with them. He usually only hunts between dusk and dawn.
Yesterday evening we had a report of a chick being eaten by the female owl. This is not surprising as barn owls often use this strategy when times are tough. It ensures some owlets will survive.
During a break in the weather the male brought a vole in yesterday and this was shared around the growing brood. He can only hunt when the rain stops as his feathers are not waterproof. As soon as there is a break in the weather he will be out there hunting again.
We have had over four and a half inches of rainfall over the past few days and as we post, it is still raining steadily.
Saturday is forecast to be dry so things will return to normal then. It is just a question of how many chicks will have survived. As we said previously, nature can be very cruel….
The oldest chick is two weeks old today.
Over the past two days we have had just over 3 inches of rain but our male barn owl has managed to hunt in these atrocious conditions and provide for his mate and five chicks. The quality of the male is the biggest single factor in the survival of the chicks. More rain is forecast and there may be tough times ahead. It would be a remarkable feat for our owls to raise all five chicks to fledging.
Keep your Fingers crossed for a positive outcome!
Last evening the female left the nest box for a few minutes and it was clear we have five chicks.
The difference in age between youngest and oldest is approximately nine days.
This might be significant as bad weather is forecast for the coming week. For the first two or three weeks the male does all the hunting whilst the chicks are brooded by the female. Unfortunately he will struggle in the wind and rain that has now arrived. This means we can expect some brood depletion. Let’s hope there are some calm weather windows when the male can find prey.
Please remember that we are observing nature live as it is and not a sanitised ‘Disney’ version. Fingers crossed for better weather!!
As the current debate rages as to whether the fifth barn owl egg has hatched or not, it is exciting for us to report that we think we may have additional tenants in the tower!
Just a metre above the owl nest box is a box especially made for kestrels. Eagle eared viewers may have heard young kestrels’ unmistakable food begging calls throughout daylight hours at times during the past week.
They will be ringed by our authorised handlers in the next few weeks and it will be interesting to find out how many chicks have hatched and hopefully we will be able to grab a photo at the same time.
The fifth chick hatched earlier today.
The female will brood them whilst they are young and the male will continue to bring in food. Eventually the female will help with the hunting.