Saturday, 21 June 2014

Barn Owls


Although seemingly low key and in small numbers this year, it appears that our local Barn Owl population is currently enjoying a productive breeding season. Local naturalist Nigel Lingley teamed up recently with Paddy Jackson, a local expert, to check on breeding Barn Owls within the area here north of Northampton. The results were good with four broods of young and another clutch of eggs all being located in sited nest-boxes. Please see images from Nigel Lingley below.

The heavy rainfall of the last nine months and the two winters prior to that have not been kind to Barn Owls, with many individuals not being able to sustain themselves let alone raise a brood of youngsters. In addition, most species of owl will only breed when there is sufficient food to raise a brood of young. In Barn Owls it often means that adults will delay nesting attempts until such time that the rodent population has itself recovered from wet or severe conditions. The Tawny Owl is capable of taking a broad range of prey and is not so reliant on a healthy vole population, but the more specialised Barn Owl requires a healthy number of rodents, particularly voles, in order to flourish.

In addition, John Finlayson has been in touch to state that a pair of Barn Owl are breeding at a site in the east of the county and appear to be taking prey back to youngsters in a nest. His pictures of the adults are attached. Hopefully our local owl population will enjoy a reprieve this year and bounce back with plenty of birds out hunting by the autumn.

Please also see an image of a Sparrowhawk picked up by Nigel as a road casualty. This bird appears to be making suitable progress and hopefully will be released soon.


Neil M

Nestling Barn Owls
Nigel Lingley

Hunting adult Barn Owls
John Finlayson

Nigel Lingley

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