The Owls in the Tower
All photos taken in and around the nest were taken by Garry Steele, who holds a British Trust for Onithology permit to ring barn owls, aided by Ian Nixon. They both have licences from Natural England to check active barn owl nests.
No one else may attempt to approach or in any way disturn the birds.
Many of you will remember that through the summer of 2014 Adrian Isaac was busy building the Owl Tower, which has become a landmark feature of the Sir Joseph Banks Country Park.
The upper part of the tower was designed to provide habitat for a variety of bird and insect species and we are delighted that in 2016 we have confirmed breeding by Barn Owls and Stock Doves.
At the beginning of June the adult female barn owl was seen with her clutch of four eggs. In the picture you can also see the partly eaten immature rat corpse which will have been brought in by the female for food while she remained in-situ to do all the brooding of the eggs.
Not the nicest of sights but it does show that the barn owls are doing their bit to control the local vermin!
By mid August all four eggs had hatched. It is noticable that the barn owlets are of different sizes, particularly the smallest one tucked under Mum. This is because barn owls closely incubate from the first egg rather than after the full clutch has been laid and there can be up to 10 days between the first and last egg hatching.
By the beginning of September the owlets were big enough to be ringed, but big brother still looks to be the boss!
There are three males and one female; apparently the sex can be determined by slight black flecking on the underside of the feathers on the wings and on the flanks of the birds as their true feathers appear through the infant down.
My thanks to Garry, whose informative emails have been blatantly plagiarised to write this!