Barn owls ...

Campercaillie

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Checked our local barn owls yesterday to find 5 healthy chicks......

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... 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.
 

Carol

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Bill thank you so much for shareing, lovely pictures and good to see how one persons efforts can make such a difference.

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cruiser

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nice photos.not keen on owls.ever since they tried to tear my aviry apart to get to my birds.but great to see them in flight mode.::bigsmile:
 

CandC

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Used to go with the olds! Now I have one of my own :)
Thank you for sharing and keep up the good work :thumb::thumb::thumb:
 

DuxDeluxe

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Thanks from down here as well :thumb:

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Campercaillie

Campercaillie

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Bill thank you so much for shareing, lovely pictures and good to see how one persons efforts can make such a difference.

Thanks Carol, and to everybody for all the nice comments, but it's not just down to me. The barn owl box was one of several manufactured by pupils at Kingussie High School, and a friend of ours who works for SNH (Scottish Natural Heritage) was tasked for suitable locations to place them. I daresay most of them will have left school by now, but they've been kept up to date over the years. My son and his 7 year-old son too, my wife all lend a hand, as does my friend at SNH who hopefully will be ringing them in the near future. But as somebody mentioned they are in serious decline, particularly with the loss of suitable habitats, so when we finally get them rung all the effort becomes worthwhile.
 
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Campercaillie

Campercaillie

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Six days on, and all 5 barn owls have been safely rung. All were still in the nest-box, and each has filled out nicely......

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The facial disc on this one is appearing through the downy feathers.

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As with many birds, not particularly attractive at this young age.

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Ringing the birds: Each ring identifies where and when it was rung, and by whom should it ever be caught or recovered.

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My little grandson, Callum (just turned 7) getting used to handling birds: He wants to follow in his dad's footsteps, and was up at 5 this morning with his dad - off to the Moray Firth ringing birds.

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And finally, a group photo. Sadly, perhaps only 2 of the 5 will make it through their first winter. But if they do, their chances of surviving to breeding age is increased dramatically.
 

Mousy

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I've read that if wild falcons are handled as chicks they don't ever hunt properly, are owls affected by this? Or is it to do with falconry only? Just wondered. Also why won't three of them survive? What kills them?

Think what you are doing is great, by the way:thumb:

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DBK

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I've read that if wild falcons are handled as chicks they don't ever hunt properly...

Not sure where you read that but it isn't true, assuming the birds were handled properly of course. An old friend of my father's in Cumbria who I am visiting in a couple of weeks has ringed over 1000 Peregrine Falcons in his life time, probably more than anyone else. He recently published a short paper showing how the Peregrine has come back strongly in the area of his study since the dark days of DDT. Given he handled most of them over a period of several decades I think it can be said they didn't suffer as a result. Unfortunately, the recovery of the Peregrine is not complete in Cumbria, the last 15 years have seen a decline, but not too dramatic. Bad weather and West Cumbrian pigeon fanciers have all been blamed!
http://raptorpolitics.org.uk/2013/1...inus-in-cumbria-the-super-recovery-1963-2012/
 
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Mousy

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Thanks devonbeekeeper, it was all about Saudi prince's paying a lot of money for captured perigrines from the states in the 80's. The chicks needed to be hooded whilst raised in the mews.

They call it the sport of kings over there.
 

DBK

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Thanks devonbeekeeper, it was all about Saudi prince's paying a lot of money for captured perigrines from the states in the 80's. The chicks needed to be hooded whilst raised in the mews.

They call it the sport of kings over there.

Big money in Peregrines. I have heard a Peregrine chick can fetch over £100K these days in places like the UAE. No wonder wild nests need guarding 24/7.

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Mousy

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I think the handling of chicks and not hunting properly is if they are then "paired" and used for falconry. Handling them spoils them in some way for falconry. It doesn't affect birds that will be left in the wild. Sorry I wasn't very clear.

Just read your friends paper, very interesting, thanks for that. It mentions birds being stolen and sold in the Middle East too.

Realise my question re owls was stupid because they aren't a bird falconers work with. :Doh:
 
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Campercaillie

Campercaillie

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......why won't three of them survive? What kills them?

A fairly high mortality rate, around 25%, is common in birds of prey. It can come down to a lack of available prey, extreme or prolonged adverse weather, a bird's lack of ability or skill to hunt, a lack of suitable habitat or any combination of these and other factors. Before the end of the year each of these youngsters will be pushed out of its parent birds' territory to find its own, and I guess that is when their struggle really begins.

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Campercaillie

Campercaillie

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A little footnote after ringing the owls ....
Whilst there I showed my little 7-year-old grandson some owl pellets in the barn. I explained that they were not "droppings" as such, and that they were the regurgitated bits that were undigestable to the owl. I went on to say that they could be analysed and that you would find lots of little bones which would identify what the owls were eating. All you need to do I said was to soak them for a while and take out the little bones. Me and my big mouth!! In an instant he picked some up and thrust them into my trouser pockets! Anyway, we had lots of fun, and from just three pellets, about the size of a little cocktail sausage we did indeed produce a few bones ......

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... and a close up of one or two of them ...:Eeek:

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Carol

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Extraordinary :Eeek: are these regulated by the owls rather than passed through.
 

MHVirgins

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Thanks for posting these beautiful photos of the chicks. We hear owls a lot around here where we are in this quiet part of D & G, it's great just to stand outside in the dark and listen to them in nearby trees:thumb:

Margaret

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