Monday, August 11, 2014

Tawny Owls: Tough Love

One of this year's young
I've been watching the tawny owl chicks mature over the season. They are reaching maturing now and virtually indistinguishable from the adults.

The feathers on the backs of their heads are the last to come through so I can still just tell who is who.

The other thing that does make them look different is how unkempt the adults are looking. They are devoted parents and really do a great job of bringing up the brood. And it has been hard work for them as this year they have had 10 chicks to care for. Look how they now.

The male at the beginning of the season
At the end of the breeding season

But in spite of all this devotion the attitude of the adults has started to change. We’re entering a transition period when they are no longer caring and nurturing the chicks, they are starting to push them out of their territory and into pastures new.

Every night I can hear the pleading calls of the chicks to the parents but the call from the adults is aggressive and frightening in response.

It's a rite of passage that seems to visible upset and confuse the chicks, who really don't seem to know what to do. It's certainly a steep learning curve for them as they start off on their own. Talk about tough love.

So I'm expecting to see the young for a couple more weeks, but then I expect them to gradually disperse, leaving just the two adults here for Autumn and Winter until the breeding season starts again next year. I’ll be missing their nightly antics!

And while the breeding season is drawing to a close for the tawny owls a new one is dawning for the barn owls who are going for a second brood this year.

The 5 young born in May have now fledged and the adults have wasted no time in getting started with a second clutch of eggs.

I'm expecting these to be born in early September with the chicks being ready to fledge in November - let's hope for an Indian Summer and a mild winter!


  1. I am guessing that the vast majority of owl chicks do not survive the winter. That Barn Owl painting is way cool.

  2. Sorry John, missed this comment. Yes they do struggle in harsh winters and we've had some tough ones recently