Saturday, 7 June 2014

Barn Owls 8 - Kestrels 0 - June 2014

I arrived back from Canada on Monday (2nd June) and was straight back to work on Tuesday. There had been no time for birding or ringing all week, and the weather had been pretty poor anyway, so I wasn't too bothered as I was still savouring the highlights from my trip. 

Before I had gone away I had seen a brood of Barn Owls that looked quite a good size and was aware that two of my boxes were likely to be being used, so I was keen to check them as I didn't want to miss the chicks. I thought I would get the wheels in motion for checking my Barn Owl and Kestrel boxes and arranged to visit the boxes on Friday evening and Saturday morning. The first box visited had three fluffy white chicks that were probably between 14 and 28 days old. Their weights ranged from 300 to 390 grams and their feathers were just starting to protrude from the sheath.

Barn Owl chick - the smallest of the three
Barn Owl chick - the mid-sized one. You have to admit they aren't
very pretty at this age

Saturday morning required an early start as I had commitments later in the day and there were several boxes to check. The first box was the one I suspected had Barn Owls, and sure enough a brood of four, and the adult female.

Healthy brood of four Barn Owls

These chicks were older than the other brood and had very similar weights that ranged from 400 to 430 grams. The oldest bird was more advanced than the others and was probably around 40 days old, with the brood probably between 25 and 40 days old.

Barn Owl chick - probably around 40 days old

The female was in very good condition plumage wise and weighed in at 345 grams, around 60 grams lighter than the chicks. Whilst ringing the Barn Owls a newly fledged Carrion Crow flew from one tree to the tree I was sat under. This was obviously its maiden flight because as it got further from its take off point it got lower and lower until it crash landed into the grass right next to me. It would have been rude to leave it there so I ringed it and put it up in the tree. It was gaining confidence all the time and by the time I left was doing circuits around the tree.

Unfortunately it would appear that Kestrels have bred early this year, as two of the boxes had chicks, but they were very advanced and sitting on the shelf outside the box and on top of it, that'll teach me to go away! Another box had a single Stock Dove egg, so hopefully one for another day.

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