Never miss the latest news about Suffolk’s barn owls, find out more about their secret lives and how you can help them thrive in our countryside.
Suffolk Wildlife Trust supports landowners, farmers and community groups to take action for Suffolk’s barn owls. With your help we can bring back Suffolk’s barn owls.
So, get involved, keep an eye on our barn owl live webcam and let us know in the comments section if you see any interesting behaviour.
Oka Last, Barn Owl Adviser
This blog is part of Suffolk Wildlife Trust's Heritage Lottery funded work to help more people take action for local wildlife
5th November 2012
“Later barn owl broods can face difficult challenges as parents go into moult and are less able to hunt to feed their young. But this story has a happy ending as area co-ordinator for Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s work to Bring Back Suffolk’s Barn Owl, Chris McIntyre reveals:
This year East Anglia experienced its wettest July ever. Pairs that managed to fledge their young early, and escape the bad weather, were able to consider second broods. The health and survival of chicks from late broods is often threatened by the onset of moulting in males that are required to feed their partners and chicks. This state of moult often weakens the parents and providing chicks with food becomes difficult, often resulting in abandonment and subsequent starvation.
We received a report of a young barn owl on a driveway in Starston, in South Norfolk. It was thought to be a survivor of a late brood abandoned by its parents in moult. Chicks, presumably its siblings, in a nearby box were found to have died of starvation. The orphaned chick was taken to the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary at Stonham Barns with the hope of bringing it back to full health. The young owl quickly gained weight and was soon eating six mice a day, so we now had a dilemma!
Owls like this can’t be released into the wild as they have to be taught to hunt by their parents. If captive birds are released then they would starve to death within days! So foster parents were sought for the chick - a method which had worked well two years previously - but where would we find a family of nestlings of a similar age so late in the season? Fortunately I had a box in my garden that the Trust’s business sponsors had visited the previous week. It was occupied by two healthy chicks of a similar age and so the orphaned chick was introduced to its new home!”
Good News! Yes all three chicks have fledged and are often seen around the box, which Chris regularly checks.
…so glad to hear that you enjoyed watching our little Chick P’s. We will miss them!
Just to let everyone know that the webcamera will be switched off shortly, but watch this space for more barn owl news coming soon! We won’t see much of Mr & Mrs P until next year as they spread their wings further afield, if you visit Redgrave & Lopham Fen you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of them or their Chick P’s floating over the Fen.
Once the Chick P’s have fledged they will hang around the nest box for a few days or even weeks, hoping to get food from Mr & Mrs P for as long as possible. Mr & Mrs P will train their Chick P’s to hunt for their own food, and once they have got in some hunting practice the Chick P’s will be sent on their way by Mr & Mrs P.
The Chick P’s will fly away from their fenland home to find their own territory…perhaps another cosy Suffolk Wildlife Trust barn owl nest box a few miles away!
Have they or haven’t they? Look carefully and we can see a few tail feathers moving at the top of the webcam view. The Chick P’s are most likely sitting on the top shelf of the nest box looking out of the hole. This is what we call ‘branching out’ where the Chick P’s will hop in and out of the nest box and maybe along a nearby branch - it will take a little while for them to get used to the big wide world outside their cosy nest box which has been their home for the past few months. Once the Chick P’s take the plunge they will take their first flight - this is when they have fledged (left the nest).
Yes it’s official, Mr & Mrs P are the proud parents of three daughters - our volunteer Area Coordinator, Patrick Barker, who is licensed to ring barn owls, carefully measured and weighed our Chick P’s before placing metal rings around their legs -this helps us to identify these individual birds and find out more about their future lives.
Vital statistics on Tuesday 3rd July
The oldest Chick P was 44-45 days old weighing 308g. Patrick can tell us the age of our Chick P’s by measuring how much feather has unfurled from it’s sheath on the seventh primary feather (the big feathers on the wing used for flying).
The middle Chick P was 49-50 days old weighing 310g and the youngest Chick P was 39 days old weighing a whopping 316g!
So all in all, although there is a mix of ages of Chick P’s, they all are of a similar weight which means that the youngest Chick P is doing well competing with her siblings for food. Go Chick P no. 3!