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Thursday, 4 August 2016

A rare Kerry chick

While searching a Barn Owl nest in a wall cavity in an old building near Milltown, we came across this newly hatched chick at the nest entrance, next to an unhatched egg. It's not a Barn Owl chick, but rather a Stock Dove chick. The owls haven't nested there this year and the male is currently only occasionally visiting the nest site, but it looks as though the doves are giving it a go. A high risk nest, as this chick would no doubt make a tasty snack for the Barn Owl should he return.

Stock Dove chick, Milltown, 2nd August 2016 (M.O'Clery).

Stock Dove chick, Milltown, 2nd August 2016 (M.O'Clery).

There are probably fewer than 15 pairs of Stock Dove nesting in Kerry, so this really is a very scarce breeding species in the county. The 2007-2011 Atlas shows just a few breeding records. Most of the recent occurrences have been around Milltown, to the east of Tralee town, and a few around Ardfert and Abbeydorney.

Atlas records of Stock Dove in Ireland, with just a handful of breeding records in Kerry.

Stock Doves are cavity nesters and, like Barn Owls, will nest in a suitably large hole in an old building or tree. The nest mentioned above is the square-shaped cavity just above the clump of grass on the wall (M.O'Clery).