A once in a lifetime opportunity? I certainly hope not, but it did feel that way as i arrived at Woods Mill last Tuesday to ring their resident Barn Owl chicks. The nest has been observed closely over the past few weeks, and it appears there is only one adult feeding the chicks, a female! Whats more, it doesn't seem to have a ring, meaning its not of last years brood. None the less, upon examination of the box, we found 4 healthy male chicks and I was lucky enough to be given the chance to ring one of them. As the eggs are laid 1-2 days apart, and consequently hatch 1-2 days apart, there is a distinct pecking order (pardon the pun) and the youngest chick will be fed last, so only in a good year will as many as 4 survive!
The ages ranged from 39 to 49 days, with fledging usually taking place around 56 days, so these birds are nearly ready to leave the nest. As is obvious in the photos, the wings are well on their way to developing, but they still retain a lot of the down that keeps them warm as chicks. At this age, they are often very vocal and needy as they need to be fed alot, and it is not uncommon for the adult bird to roost somewhere else for a bit of peace and quiet, and only return to the nest to feed them.
What a day......
|Me ringing a Barn Owl chick, Tyto alba, |
|Ever wondered how to weigh a Barn Owl chick?|
|Full profile of Barn Owl chick, Tyto alba, with its new ring|
The photo of me ringing the chick was kindly taken and is copyrighted to David Plummer.