Approximate egg laying dates are March 26, 28, 31 and April 3.
Barn Owl Nesting Information
The female makes a simple nest of her own regurgitated pellets,
shredded with her feet and arranged into a cup. Unlike most
birds, owls may use their nest sites for roosting throughout the
year. Nest sites are often reused from year to year, often by
Barn Owls don’t only live in barns. Historically they lived in
many different types of rural buildings and tree hollows.
Basically they will use anything that provides what they need:
somewhere that gives them shelter from rain and wind and where
they ‘feel safe’. Unless the site is extremely isolated, Barn
Owls generally roost and nest at least 3 meters above ground
Barn Owls can breed in their first year. They don’t build a nest
but usually choose a ledge in a building or a hollow in a tree
where the white eggs are laid. The female starts to sit as soon
as the first egg is laid - incubation takes 31 days. There can
be an age difference of several days between owlets. On average,
5 - 6 eggs are laid, with 3 - 4 hatching and only 2 - 3 owlets
actually fledging. One brood (family) per pair per year is
normal, although in areas with good habitat and therefore a
plentiful food supply, two broods in a year are possible.
Barn Owls are crepuscular; they hunt mainly at dusk and dawn,
flying low over rough
grassland, hedges and ditches looking for voles, shrews and
mice. Over a whole year
(including breeding) a pair of Barn Owls and their family may
consume 5,000 small
Barn Owls fly slowly over open fields at night or dusk with slow
wingbeats and a looping, buoyant flight. They use their
impressive hearing, aided by their satellite-dish-shaped faces,
to locate mice and other rodents in the grass, often in complete
darkness. Barn Owls are usually monogamous and mate for life,
although there are some reports of males with more than one
mate. Males attract their mates with several kinds of display
flights, including a “moth flight” where he hovers in front of a
female for several seconds, his feet dangling. He also displays
potential nest sites by calling and flying in and out of the
nest. After the pair forms, the male brings prey to the female
(often more than she can consume), beginning about a month
before she starts laying eggs. Barn Owls defend the area around
their nests, but don’t defend their hunting sites; more than one
pair may hunt on the same fields.
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Barn Owl Nesting Facts
2–18 eggs Number of Broods: 1-3 broods Egg Length:
3.9–4.4 cm Egg Width:
3.1–3.4 cm Incubation Period: 29–34 days Nestling Period: 50–55 days Egg Description: Dull white,
often dirtied by the nest. Condition at Hatching: Helpless, covered in white
How can you tell if a Barn Owl is male or female?
It is almost impossible to tell if a Barn Owl is male or female just
seeing it fly overhead. However, a close look may give you a clue.
Females often have darker brown feathers around the rim of the facial
disc as well as darker bars on the tail and small black spots on the
chest and underside of the wings. Males are generally lighter and a more
pure white underneath.
Females are slightly heavier than males at around 360g (males usually
weigh around 330g) although during the early breeding season females may
weigh as much as 425g before egg laying.
What do Barn Owls eat?
Barn Owls are birds of prey, hunting and catching small mammals, mostly
mice. They have some extraordinary specially adapted characteristics to
help them hunt for food at night, such as incredibly sensitive hearing
and the ability to see movement with very little light.
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