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11 July 2014

Barn Owl ringing shows value of nest boxes

As the ringing of Barn Owls gets underway in Duhallow this season, the true value of nest boxes is becoming ever more apparent, both in Duhallow and beyond. In the post below, you can see the storm-damaged cottage near Newmarket, which was a nest site for Barn Owls for many years. From a ringed adult female at this site, we have discovered that she (and possibly her male partner) have relocated to a modern barn 2 km away in which one of our nest boxes was placed three years ago. The barn would have otherwise been unsuitable for nesting Barn Owls, but now, to the delight of all those involved with the nest box scheme, the Barn Owl pair have four well grown chicks in the nest box. 

Four Barn Owl chicks from the nest box near Newmarket. The owls moved in some time after February 2014. Pictured holding the owls, Brin McDonnell of the Duhallow Birdwatching Club, and Elsa Corkery, UCC (M.O'Clery).

At another site near Kanturk, when a tree nest was destroyed by storms in 2013, a nest box was put in place in the shattered tree trunk. One bird was present last summer, but this year a pair was again present, and one chick has been successfully reared in the nest box. In both these cases, we would have lost the Barn Owl nest sites if it weren't for the nest boxes. Incentive indeed to keep up the hard work in locating new suitable sites for boxes, making, installing and monitoring them.

The Barn Owl nest box wedged into the shattered trunk of the tree near Kanturk. Thankfully, Barn Owls have moved back in and nested successfully in the box this year, with one chick, below. (M.O'Clery).

John Lusby (BirdWatch Ireland), Dario-Fernandez-Bellon (UCC) and Ilsa Corkery (UCC) retrieving the Barn Owl chick for weighing, measuring and ringing (M.O'Clery).

The Barn Owl chick (M.O'Clery).

The same is now happening in Co. Kerry where several sites would now be lost were it not for careful placement of nest boxes.