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17 July 2013

Barn Owl chicks in chimney nest box

Nest box on top of the chimney of an abandoned cottage, Kerry, 17th July 2013, and (inset) a close-up of the box (M.O'Clery).

At last, some good news on Barn Owls. There are at least two chicks in one of our nest boxes in central Kerry. Have a look and listen to the video clip and you can hear the distinctive 'snoring' call of two or more chicks from inside the box.

From the volume of the calls and the brief glimpses of one of the birds taking a peep out of the box, they look to be about 40 to 45 days old, or about two-thirds of the way to fledging.

This site had three young last year and featured on the 'Living the Wildlife' documentary by Colin Stafford Johnston which aired on RTE last April. Thankfully, it has proven the exception so far this season, with most Barn Owl sites visited in our survey so far either  abandoned, or the adults have not bred.

We will be ringing the chicks at this site shortly, so check back for more soon.

In the first part of the clip, the snoring starts quietly as dusk falls (accompanied by singing Whitethroats in the background, formerly a rare summer visitor to Kerry, but making a strong comeback this summer).

In the second part of the clip, later in the evening, keep an eye on the entrance to the box as the snoring intensifies when one of the young spots an adult on a nearby telegraph pole and comes close to the entrance in its eagerness to get some food (filmed under licence: M.O'Clery).