Friday, 17 July 2009

Meet the Owlets

Last year Phil Antrobus gave us a news piece on his work with the RSPB’S Volunteer & Farmer Alliance section , carrying out bird surveys on two local farms in the Merseyside area.
On one of these farms a Barn Owl nestbox is on site and has been for many years. In 2008 four owlets were ringed, thanks to Chris and his ‘ringer’ associate. This year it was Chris’s turn to climb in the cage! Along with Stephen Menzie, and watched over by our fully fledged expert ringing friend John Gramauskas, three owlets were recovered from the box.

All fluff and talons, watch those hands boys - as John was quick to point out if it’s got it’s claws into you, you don’t want to pull your hand away, else lots of ripped flesh.... in time it will release you - honestly John?

One of the birds is fitted with a light-weight metal ring that will allow us to track its movements should it be seen again. Find out more about ringing >HERE<.

These beauties were estimated to be about 5 weeks old - half-grown, 2 females and a male, all roughly the same size although it usual for there to be 2 days between siblings - the age difference between the oldest and youngest nestlings can be as much as three weeks. The average brood size is 3.6.
In another week they should be hopping about in and around the box entrance…as long as mum and dad bring in the grub that is.. who can forget the Springwatch owl consuming his younger brothers and sisters, gulp!....Sadly no sign of the parents during the ringing session, hopefully out hunting a rodent dinner on yet another wet July evening.
By nine weeks old most young have already made their first flights and by ten weeks they are able to fly quite well. By week 14 week almost all owlets have left their parents' home range.

A quick family portrait, before the birds are returned to their nestbox.

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