Monday, 13 June 2016

Barn Owls.

At the top of the lane we often see a barn owl - or to be more correct, the farmer often sees it when he goes early in the morning to collect the daily papers.   And we know that a barn owl roosts in one of our barns.  It may not of course be the same bird but there is no doubt that one roosts there (there is no nest) because it leaves plenty of evidence in the form of owl pellets.

Friend G, who is a volunteer at Foxglove Nature Reserve on Catterick Garrison,  collects them now and again and a few weeks ago got quite a haul of very large ones for a class in disecting them.  This happened last week and it was most successful.   One pellet contained something like the following:
skulls and bones of seven voles, five shrews and two mice.  No wonder the barn owl looks such a healthy specimen.

If you want to know more about the Nature Reserve then have a look at Foxglove Covert LNR Blog - there is always a lot of interesting information there.   For example, this morning my friend G told me that volunteers have made two rafts to float on one of the ponds, and each morning the rafts are covered in chopped-up apple.  Yesterday - only a couple of days after the rafts were floated - they were able to photograph water voles eating on the rafts.

15 comments:

Yorkshire Pudding said...

I went over to the Foxglove Covert website - fascinating. It was so kind of the farmer to collect the owl pellets for the volunteers to pick apart and the results were very interesting. I wonder if they would like to pick apart one of my own much larger "pellets".

Derek Faulkner said...

Pat, you really should think about putting a nest box in your barn for the owls (an old tea chest is ideal, put on it's side). One of the things that holds Barn Owls back from being more common is the lack of nest sites. On the reserve that I operate on we have had Barn Owls nesting in an old tea chest in the barn for over thirty years (not the same birds obviously) and we ring the chicks every year. If you were lucky enough to get nesting Barn Owls you could then contact a local ringing group to ring the youngsters and would then be able to monitor their movements. The pellets can be very revealing and one year I saved the pellets from our barn for a whole year for students from the University of Greenwich and they wrote up a Paper on what they found.

Heather said...

How lovely to have barn owls so close to home, though I suppose as we are semi-rural there might have been one or two flying over our house at some time. I will never forget the time when one flew over my head many years ago, and the lovely soft sound of it's wings - no more than a whisper.

Mac n' Janet said...

We hear an owl at night sometimes and saw him one day, but that's a rare occurrence. I can remember dissecting owl pellets when I was in school.

Frances said...

Weaver, I enjoyed this post and the prior comments so much. Not a chance of seeing any barn owls around my neighborhood! I did, however, once have an excellent bird watcher point out a little white owl sitting in a pine tree in Central Park's Shakespeare Garden. That was decades ago, but when I pass by that tree, I always look up carefully to see if I can see any birds. Never again.

xo

Countryside Tales said...

Fascinating stuff I heartily approve of the chopped fruit on the rafts for the water voles and checking what's in pellets is worthwhile too and interesting x

angryparsnip said...

Very interesting post today.
I have a owl that comes by and sits on my roof.
I love to hear his hooting.
The one owl I would love to see is the Arizona Elf Owl, about the size of a sparrow.
Likes to live in the abandon nests that are in the saguaros.

cheers, parsnip and thehamish

Terra Hangen said...

I like Derek's idea for you, to put a nesting box in the barn. I am sure owls have a hard time finding nesting places. I do love owls and how nice your land shelters some.

Rachel said...

We have many barn owls here. I see them hunting in the mornings whatever route I take to the railway station. Then I see them in the evening through the window swooping back home across my lawns. There are many. My brother has a box for 10 years and never a year missed in occupation or babies. Barn owls don't make much noise and if you hear an owl twit twoo'ing it is unlikely to be a barn owl. The noisiest owls around here late at night in the dark are the tawny owls. The barn owl is likely to be seen in the daylight.

Midmarsh John said...

I miss seeing Barn Owls. Often saw them flying above open drains and dykes on my way to and from work.

Joanne Noragon said...

When I go to work I see owls sitting on phone wires surveying the fields for a snack. We had a white owl resident for about a month last year, but it has moved on.

Librarian said...

Here in town I see many different birds, but I don't think I have ever spotted an owl of any kind. Must ask my Dad, he's the expert on birds in our family, and he has been (and still is) out and about early mornings more than the rest of us.

donna baker said...

We have many at the farm. I was once reading in bed late one night and had my bedroom door open. I though I heard a woman screaming out the door and startled. I figured it was a screech owl since there were no women around. It is a small owl with a big voice. Owl pellets are interesting but look like a hairball the cat threw up.

Doc said...

As children we lived in Spain for about four years and hand raised an owl. It had complete freedom to come and go as an adult and would fly out the bedroom window for its nightly hunt. Often in the morning we would find a pellet on the bedroom floor.

The Weaver of Grass said...

We have plenty of tawny owls Rachel and I agree that they make the most noise. I have never heard a sound from a barn owl though.
Thanks everyone for your cotribution.