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28 August 2012

Last Barn Owl nest?

As the summer slowly slides into autumn, and the breeding season draws to a close, there are only a few Barn Owl nests still containing young. About half of all Barn Owl nests failed to produce any young this summer, due mainly to the extremely wet weather, and at the majority of those sites which produced young, the fledglings have departed to find their own way in the world. 
However, we received a phone call recently from an interested farmer in Duhallow, who reported three young Barn Owls on the roof of a derelict cottage. Upon investigation, they bred in the chimney of the old house, and fledged about mid-August. One was still present a week ago, but last night, all were gone, though one of the parents still arrived at the nest at dusk to have a look around.
Perhaps this will be the last nest discovered during this summer's survey?

A rare photograph of two young Barn Owls on the chimney of a derelict house just outside Duhallow, in late August 2009. At this age they are fully developed and are indistinguishable from adults, though their exaggerated head-bobbing behaviour and loud 'snoring' calls showed them to be fledglings (Photo: N. Sheehan).