We do realise though that there’s a good population still using natural sites; borne out by the number of unringed adults that turn up breeding in our boxes every year
Over the years, we’ve found a few nest holes used regularly by Barn Owls but these are not always easy to check; they can be higher than our boxes and sometimes so deep that you cannot reach the chicks to ring them. We just register them as another breeding pair and leave them to it.
Earlier this year; whilst checking boxes, a Barn Owl flew from a hole in the next tree to our box and much lower. I know this hole well; 2 years ago it had nesting Little Owls and last year, a Tawny so 3 owl species in 3 years for this hole. When I looked in, I could see a female Barn Owl sitting quietly by 4 eggs and another visit 2 weeks ago showed her still there with smallish chicks. This hole differs from most as it runs inside a horizontal branch with the hole at the elbow where to branch turns upwards!
Looking down the hole I could see 2 chicks and took a photo before reaching down the hole and taking them out. Looking in again and there were 2 more and these were followed by another pair, surprisingly my first 6 brood of the year!!
So that’s 65 chicks ringed for the year and an all time total on 696; only 4 to go for our 700th chick!!