Remember my post of March 3rd about the barn owl pair I was supplement feeding?
Well the good news is that they have laid six eggs, the last of which was laid just in time for Easter.
I’ve been monitoring their progress via video link from a nest cam linked to my hide. The first egg appeared on April 1 and I have been watching each subsequent arrival with baited breath.
He would let out a soft chittering call as he flew into the box. As she replied you could see her wings quivering and she would tremble as he entered the nest chamber and delicately offered her the mouse.
After she accepted each offering, he would mate her and head back out to hunt for another.
On one occasion I watched him present her with a mouse, and then mate her, twice in the space of 20 minutes, before, on the third occasion, she took the mouse from him and stood up and turned sharply on him as if to say “Not this time!”
It was very exciting when I crept into my hide on April 1 and switched on the TV monitor to spot an egg under her belly.
After that she laid another egg every three or four days until she had a clutch of six.
Barn owls don’t usually start laying until the first two weeks in May, so if we are lucky this pair might go on to lay another clutch this year.
It would make a huge difference to local populations if they did. This month the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust launched a campaign to save the ‘last barn owls in Yorkshire’: these birds of prey could disappear from the county altogether if the current rate of decline continues, so every owlet counts.
I’m so glad I decided to supplement feed this pair as it really has worked. It is so satisfying to see that all my day trips to feed this pair in all weathers paid off.
I found it very rewarding too. It was so exciting going into my hide each night and turning on the screens to count the eggs.
I’m hoping the first egg will hatch on May Day. I can’t wait. They won’t all hatch at once and so it will be thrilling waiting for each chick to emerge.
This is a picture of two chicks I painted some time ago. These chicks will differ in size considerably and I’m sure there will be plenty of drama in the secret world of the nest box.
I’ll be posting live footage of the chicks as they hatch, so watch this space.