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8 July 2013

A rare sight, and a rare sound, this year

Survey work into Long-eared Owls in Duhallow this year is mostly completed, and it has become apparent that it has been a disastrous breeding season for this elusive and little known species. Of 13 sites where Long-eared Owls were present this spring, or nested last summer, none have yet produced any young. This stark figure has been reflected elsewhere in the country and when all nesting areas or active territories studied nationwide are added up, a total of 42 sites have produced only five chicks.

A rare sight - a young Long-eared Owl chick (Adrian Rooney).

We can only surmise that it was the unusually cold spring which accounted for the failed breeding. Long-eared Owls nest relatively early in the season, and the late spring may have suppressed numbers of their main prey small mammals and birds.

There is still hope that some chicks will yet appear at the study sites, and with an extraordinarily good forecast for the next week, a final all-out effort will be made to locate any calling young.

The 'squeaky gate' call is loud and persistant, and can be heard for up to a kilometre on calm  summer nights. If you hear one, please let us know (contact details HERE).

Have a listen. 

The recording(below) is the call of a Long-eared Owl chick, calling for their parents to bring them food. It can be surprisingly loud.

Copyright, David Marques. Catalogue no. XC59710