top of page
  • Writer's pictureAlistair

Egg break to screeching banshee in 3 months ...

It’s been a hard slog, but, three months after their eggs hatched, our barn owl parents are

now empty nesters. They certainly deserve a break.

Back on 14 June, Arfon Williams checked the barn owl box and found 3 small chicks (a few days old) plus an egg. As reported in the blog on 27 June 2022, I had a camera trap set up and was capturing what must have been the father bringing small rodents to the box every half hour or so during the night. Exhausting. And judging from the snorting / shrieking coming from inside the box the recipients of all this hard work were never satisfied.

A few days later, on 6 July, Arfon returned to ring the chicks. At this stage they were living at the bottom of the deep box, not capable of getting out. For the first few weeks their mother would have been keeping them warm, but by now she could leave them to some extent. Arfon briefly removed them and put their rings on … to me they looked more like wizened old men than new-born chicks. Still only 3 chicks, so the fourth did not make it.

The feeding continued, with both parents now joining in. By the end of July (at around 6 or 7 weeks old) the owlets were pretty much fully grown and coming out to sit on the ledge. They were still not flying but beginning to stretch and limber up for launch. I’m not sure what music they were listening to, but they had some great moves for the dance floor!

By early August one of the owlets was definitely flying. It was difficult to tell when all three were airborne, but my sense was it took a few more weeks for the youngest to reach that point.

At this stage the parents were still bringing the food in, a plentiful supply of mice and voles. The young owls would wait on the ledge, each trying to elbow(?) the others out of the way as the food was delivered. No word of thanks. So not surprising that by mid-August the feeding seemed less frequent than in the early days and I’m guessing that the kids were being encouraged to go hunting. Apparently, the parents provide no training. Can’t blame them given the lack of gratitude and attitude of entitlement displayed by their offspring.

Come the end of August, I’m pretty sure only one of the new owls was using the box and early September saw markedly fewer appearances on the camera trap, so they all seem to have other places to be. I have heard their screeches and seen barn owls flying low over the fields at dusk, so I think that they must be doing OK. My neighbours, Robert and Julia, have reported a barn owl around their farm, so they seem to be spreading their wings a little.

Hopefully, the land at Cefn Garthenor, now much less intensively grazed, is providing a much more cover for owl prey (voles, mice etc) than it has done for many years. With luck, this means that we might encourage and provide for more breeding pairs in the coming years. Talons crossed.


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page