A couple of weeks ago; I received an email from local ringer Pete Leonard who told me he’d visited a Kestrel box near Kinoulton and that a Barn Owl had flown from a nearby Barn Owl box.
Yesterday; with Chris Hughes, we were checking this box and approached with our usual stealth though creeping up on a bird that can hear a mouse fart at 40 paces is never easy.
The owl must have been asleep as I managed to get the blocker in before he came out but did his best to shoulder it out before I got up the ladder. Like most males, he was very feisty and wanted to shake hands but I chickened out and went for the easy option, opened the door and he was in the net quicker than the man fired from a cannon in a circus.
Usually, male Barn Owls are easy to tell apart from females that have spots of various density on the breast and inner underwing, sometimes they have a lot, sometimes so few that you think you’ve got a male but they usually have some!
This little lad was the palest Barn owl I’ve ever seen and I must have had about 7-800 by now. The upper wing feathers on Barn Owls always have rows of big dark spots but this boy had hardly any, just a couple on the outer 2 primary wing feathers. Also his tail was all white.
I put a ring on his leg and he was back in the box to continue his snooze.
The other box on site was where they bred last year and on the way there, a presumed female came out!
I expected to find some chicks inside but the box was empty though the male had dropped a couple of voles into the box to keep her sweet so perhaps they will be late breeders?
It was a funny sort of day; a couple of boxes where we expected to find breeding owls were empty while a new box had a female with chicks and a box that was empty last year had a pair of owls but again, no eggs or chicks!!