A sad tale for 2018: at the annual inspection in July three dead Barn Owl chicks were found in one of the boxes. It is thought they died due to lack of food, caused by the voles having no green shoots to eat. The heat may also have affected them – the boxes would have become very hot in that torrid summer.
Barn Owls 2017
It is pleasing to report that after an absence of 5 years, Barn owls have returned to one of our nesting boxes and currently there are 3 chicks being reared and estimated that they will fledge by the end of August.
The owlets were weighed and ringed in July when they were calculated to be approximately 40 days old .
In common with much of the country it was a bad year for barn owls. This is thought to be due to the late Spring causing their main feedstock, field voles, to be not available.
This year’s inspection of the barn owl boxes took place on June 14th and was attended by Lady Captain.
9th Hole Box
In the box on the 9th we found a female adult which had not previously been ringed and was thought to be just one to two years old. Also found were 4 small chicks but they were too young to be ringed, ie less than 23 days. It was resolved to return in 3 weeks to ring them.
On July 4th the box was inspected again and it was found that only one of the chicks had survived. However at 41 days it was in good health and looked set to fledge in another two weeks.
So what happened to the other three chicks?
Two of them were quite small and were thought unlikely to survive, however we had hoped to have two survivors. It is probable that with the recent very wet weather the parents may not have been able to hunt and will have taken advantage of whatever was available! (Barn owls hunt mostly by sound so the noise of raindrops makes it impossible for them).
Since 2005, when the three boxes were erected, we have housed five families of barn owls, producing a total of nine fledging chicks. This success has mostly been due to the large extent of long rough on the course, where field voles, the main food of barn owls, can thrive.
Go to www.bbog.co.uk to see more of the work of the Broxton Barn Owl Group and their findings.