Checked our local barn owls yesterday to find 5 healthy chicks...... ... but unfortunately, four had managed to escape their nesting box, as the inspection hatch had fallen into a state of disrepair, and were on the floor of the barn. We have now retrieved them all, put them back into the box, and carried out a temporary repair on the hatch. Had they remained on the floor they will have undoubtedly have been predated - by pine marten or cats (possibly even a wildcat!!) It was in 2004 that we installed the box after we had found multiple barn owl carcasses in the barn. And since then we have had 22 chicks!! The last few years have been hard for the owls. No owls were present in 2010, and as far as we know, only one last year. The amount of snow cover into the spring really diminishes their ability to catch sufficient prey. But this year's very mild weather has seemingly produced a bounty of small mammals to raise five healthy chicks. We hope to ring them over the next week or so.