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Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Barn Owl nest camera, Dingle Peninsula

Some footage from a Barn Ow nest box site on the Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry, over the past few nights. There are four chicks within, the oldest about 25 days, the youngest about 15 days old. The male and female are busy feeding them each night, and the hunting is good...

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Barn Owl nest camera, Co. Kerry (Video: M.O'Clery, filmed under licence from NPWS).

Some things to look out for... 

The male delivers prey in the early part of the video, but note the paleness of the outer wing. He is easily distinguishable from the female who appears toward the end of the video - she has more barring on the secondaries (outer wing) and primaries (the longest wing feathers) as well as a more heavily barred tail. Not all pairs are so readily sexed, as there are some females which are only faintly barred and some slightly barred males, but this pair are particularly easy to distinguish.

Notice that both the female and male are already ringed with a small metal band on their legs. An adult male and an adult female were ringed at this site in 2012, and a different female was ringed in 2013. It would be fantastic to discover if these two are the same individuals. We hope to be able to answer that question by trapping the adults at the nest site when ringing takes place in one or two weeks time.

The last clip shows the female outside the box, but the chorus of hisses and bill snaps is from the chicks, who either heard or saw something which alarmed them, perhaps even the female arriving at the nest.

Hunting seems to be good. One Bank Vole is offered to a chick, but it turns out it already has one. In another part of the clip, you can see the chick eat one item, while another lies uneaten at its feet. This surplus is often consumed by the chicks during the following day.

Though last year saw the loss of several sites in Kerry, Barn Owls that are breeding this year seem to be doing very well, with brood sizes larger than normal. No doubt the settled weather over the past two months has helped greatly. More info on Barn Owls and other raptors on the Irish Raptor Blog HERE.