The Broxton Barn Owl Group has erected a number of barn owl boxes on The Sandstone Ridge.
This is the time of year when their volunteers inspect the boxes to check on breeding success and to note any other surprises (lots of adult Kestrels, Buzzards and a Tawny Owl have been recorded together with 'pulli' i.e. young birds ringed in the nest)!
One such box was found to have 3 female owlets, between 44-53 days old and not yet fledged. This is the average number of young usually found, but up to 7 have been counted in a single box in a good year.
The age of the owlet is measured by the length of the primary wing feathers, and determining their sex is easy since the female has spots!
The adults were not to be seen; at this time they leave the nest, returning only to feed their young.
They had not nested in this particular box for 5 years so it was great to see that they had returned.
Despite the 'beast from the east', and now the summer heatwave, they seem to be doing very well.
The three owlets were weighed and ringed. They "play dead" as a way of managing any 'intrusion', after which they were returned to their box.
For more information on the Broxton Barn Owl Group and their fantastic work CLICK HERE.
UPDATE — since writing this article, one owlet has now been found dead at the base of the tree and immediately beneath the barn owl box.
We have chosen not to name the farm on which these owlets were identified.