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Latest from the Barn Owl Cam
UPDATE: The barn owl on eggs had to see off a tawny owl intruder! Scroll down to see the action and also learn how her mate takes care of her.
Welcome to my barn owl nest cam where I collate the best clips of barn owls from cameras hidden inside and outside my nest boxes. I have six or seven barn owls living in or near my garden and once a pair chooses a box to nest in I watch the pair closely, getting to know them and their subsequent chicks well. Scroll down to see the best of the footage from my nest cam as I get it.
My cameras run 24 hours a day so that I don’t miss a moment’s action, but rather than you having to watch a live camera when often there is nothing to see for hours, I’ve only selected the best clips here. I plan to post these as I get them. Don’t forget to keep checking in to see the latest and follow the individual stories of the barn owls living in my garden as they unfold.
The barn owl sees off an intruder! May 15th
My nest cams picked up the moment a tawny owl intrudes on the brooding barn owl. Watch as moments before the tawny arrives at the entrance to the nest box, the barn owl freezes and looks up. Turn your sound on to hear as as she hisses and screeches, her wings stretched out as she postures to frighten the tawny owl away. It works. The tawny owl retreats and you can hear its hoots fade gradually away.
A Barn Owl’s Morning Ritual: May 14th
Remember the barn owl yoga? Well here it is again. But this time I have recorded the entire morning routine for your amusement. And I’m warning you I haven’t missed out any detail! I filmed this after noticing that the female barn owl gets up off her eggs at roughly 4.30pm every day, which for a night owl is morning. She gets up and has a good stretch, balancing on one long leg after the other. She then does a ‘shimmy’ to shake out all her feathers. Then each wing gets a stretch. In this clip she does one at a time, whilst also stepping backwards. What she does next is hilarious! How do you get yourself going of a morning?
The female barn owl refuses to take her gift: May 14th
After observing that the male barn owl supports the female on eggs by bringing her food and then mating her whilst she is still holding the offering in her mouth, the cameras caught this moment where the female refused to accept the gift of a young rat. Watch as the male tries to interest her. She sits impassively, then turns her head away. The male looks as though he doesn’t really know what to do. He stands about looking at a loss, then tries to briefly mate her before leaving the box a little disconcerted!
The male has been reliably bringing food to the female as she sits on her clutch. He mainly brings voles, but occasionally he has brought her a young rat. Watch how she swallows one whole in the following clip.
And here she dissects a vole, intestines and all.
How the barn owl pair behave in the box: May 13th
This fascinating clip taken from my nest cams in my owl box is a perfect synopsis of the relationship between the male and female barn owl, now that the female has a clutch of eggs. The deal between them seems to be that the male mates her in exchange for food. Watch as the male flies in to the box and offers the female something to eat. While she is still holding his offering in her mouth he mates her. Then off her flies, leaving her to stash her offering in a corner for later. He brings her food in exchange for the chance to mate her again. Watch the funny moment she walks across to hide the food and stops to stretch her leg momentarily – mouth still stuffed full of catch!
Barn owl yoga stretch: May 11th
Watch as the female barn owl has a good stretch after a long stint on her clutch of three eggs. This funny clip shows this barn owl stretch one long leg out and then stand and balance. She ends her ‘yoga’ routine with a graceful bow, stretching both wings high above her head. I’ve noticed that she does this at around 4.30pm every day, which is effectively her ‘morning’.
It’s hot in the barn owl box: May 11th
The weather has been very warm outside and its brought the bumblebees out. Watch the female as she gets distracted when one flies into the box.
Barn owl pair preening in the box: May 11th
The male seems to have been spending longer periods in the box. On the morning of May 11th he was there for 35 minutes. For 10 minutes they were preening together, which makes the times when he would just go straight into the box and mate her and then leave feel a little less brutal.
Barn Owl Posing: May 10th
My surveillance cameras picked up this gorgeous footage of the barn owl on the kestrel’s mating post tonight. Watch as this beautiful white owl glides across the countryside just as the sun is setting and swoops onto this branch. He then stands there posing perfectly!
A Night in the life of a barn owl on eggs: May 4th
Do owls sit on their eggs all day and all night? Or do they take a break, have a snack, stretch and even take time for a bit of time with their partners? I thought I’d share this fun footage of night with the female barn owl as she incubates. The film was taken on nest cams over the course of 3 hours from midnight until 3am and there is a surprising amount of activity, including a moment when the male comes in to the box, mates with her and then leaves, leaving an offering of food for her to devour before settling down to brood again. Later than night she lays her third egg!
Barn owl’s lays a third egg: May 4th, 2018
The barn owl has laid a third egg. So far her eggs have arrived every two days. This egg was laid at ten minutes to four in the afternoon. Watch her as she sits, shuffling every now and then and lifting her tail. Her body rocks ever so slightly from side to side. Ten minutes after this behaviour she stands up and you can see a third egg. She leans down and nuzzles the eggs together before sitting back down to brood again.
Barn owl’s second egg laid: May 2nd, 2018
The barn owl has now laid her second egg. Interestingly she again appeared to be ‘labouring’ 20 minutes before laying. My cameras recorded this action exactly three days after the first egg was laid. Watch her here as she shuffles, her tail erect and quivering, whilst she is incubating the first egg. The cameras pick this behaviour up at 8.28 am. Then at 8.47 she stands up and a second egg pops out. She looks down at it as if in surprise and then steps carefully over it before sitting down to brood. I have slowed the footage down at this point so that you can see the egg drop.
Male barn owl treats the female mean but keeps her keen: May 2nd
After watching the last clip of the male’s brief and perfunctory visit I decided to watch how many times he visited the nest box over a period of 24 hours. It turns out he was quite mean. From midnight on May 2nd to midnight May 3rd the female sat in the box incubating her eggs and the male visited 15 times. Of 12 of these visits he stayed just long enough to mate her and then left again. Most of his visits lasted between 25-30 seconds. The longest he staged was 60seconds. During these visits he only brought her food for her four times. Most of the time he just mated her and left.
Male barn owl’s perfunctory visit: May 1st, 2018
The female barn owl laid her first egg two days ago and has been in the box incubating ever since. She is visited sporadically by the male, but his visits are brief. Mainly he brings her a vole to eat, mates her and then leaves. Watch this clip however where he literally flies in, mates and leaves. She looks so forlorn afterwards and actually follows him to the entrance – as if to say, ‘Hey! I’m hungry, where’s my food?’!
Barn owl’s first egg laid: April 29th, 2018
The barn owl has laid her first egg! I was beginning to worry that she wasn’t going to lay after the standoff with the kestrels and then the nest cams picked up this behaviour. Watch my the clip below to see how she sits, apparently labouring, her tail feathers quivering. Twenty minutes later she stands up to reveal a small, shiny white egg beneath her. The nest cams record her sitting and shuffling, tail up and quivering at 3.57pm, and then the egg is revealed at 4.16pm. I have stitched the sequences together so that you can watch it as one. Barn owls clutches of up to 5 eggs at 2/3 days and begin to incubate the eggs from the moment the first egg is laid. So far she has displayed text-book behaviour and has barely left the box. The male visits intermittently with food for her and to mate her, then leaves. I am expecting the next egg on May 1st or 2nd.
Barn owl takes a midnight dip: April 14th, 2018
Watch this fabulous footage of the female barn owl taking a bath! It takes place on the night following the dramatic stand off with the female kestrel; described below. Perhaps the barn owl was feeling in need of a bath. She walks up to the side of the pond and then hops in with both feet. She seems a little surprised at how shallow the water is, then it takes another step and after a few cautious dips, the owl then ventures a little deeper before plunging right in. Watch as she emerges waist deep from the water, her feathers are drenched! She really seems to be enjoying herself. Like most birds, barn owls need to keep their feathers clean. This footage was recorded at about 2am last night and it had been a hot day so undoubtedly the owl was also cooling off. Barn owls often rinse off in shallow pools of water. Sadly they can get into trouble if the water is too deep and they are often found drowned in cattle drinking troughs. Click here to read this article by The Barn Owl Trust offering a very helpful solution on to how to create a float in your water trough to prevent this happening.
Barn owl vs kestrel standoff: April 14th, 2018
The standoff between the kestrel pair and these barn owls has continued on and off for weeks, but today it reached a climax with a 45 minute standoff inside the sycamore stump. The female kestrel is increasingly distressed and calls and shrieks loudly throughout. Make sure you watch the clip below with the sound on. Watch the kestrel as she spreads out her wings and steps towards the barn owl squawking incessantly. Wouldn’t you if you found someone inside your house and they refused to get out despite you shouting at them for 45 minutes? The female barn owl barely budges throughout. Of course it doesn’t occur to the kestrel that she is blocking the entrance so the barn owl can’t actually get past her.Eventually the kestrel gives up and flies out, followed hard by the female barn owl. I’ve been watching the sycamore stump closely to see if I can discover why the barn owls keep occupying it since they have already adopted the elm stump and seem quite settled there. I think that what is happening is accidental rather than deliberate. The barn owls fly around the garden at night and often as they fly past, the kestrels are roosting just outside the sycamore stump rather than inside it. The female kestrel can be aggressive and as a barn owl passes, she tends to fly at it. The owl then takes refuge inside the stump and then finds itself trapped inside!
Barn owl boogie: April 18th, 2018
Barn owls’ eyes are fixed in their head so they have to twist their necks and bob up and down to judge distances. The cameras caught this female at about five in the morning. She has spotted something and begins to bob up and down to locate it. She is joined by the male and they both spend about 20 minutes sitting together watching the world from the entrance to their nest box. Every now and the male sees something and twists his head round then begins dancing up and down on the spot to locate it. The two rocking together in this way look quite sweet.
Barn owl bond: April 13th, 2018
I’m expecting the female barn owl to lay any day now. The pair is bonding well and now spend a good deal of their time together. The following clip shows them sitting in the entrance to the elm stump, which seems to now be their established adopted nest box. It is quite lovely to see them both together. The one on the right is the female. Watch as she emerges from inside the nest and budges her mate out of the way. He barely flinches as she snugs up next to him and soon closes his eyes to doze off.
Barn owl vs kestrel deadlock: April 5, 2018
Last night the cameras outside the ash stump captured the resident female kestrel, poised at the entrance to her nest box for what seemed like hours. When I reeled back through the footage I discovered what the issue was. A female barn owl was inside. The kestrel was blocking its exit, standing in its way with menacing persistence. What happened next was incredible. The male barn owl flew down and tried to barge its way in to rescue its mate. But its valiant efforts were short-lived as the kestrel grabbed it and threw it out of the box. As the two flew out of shot, grappling, the female escaped from the box. The male then returned to occupy the box. But this wasn’t the end because within minutes the kestrel returned and her lengthy stand-off commenced. This deadlock lasted throughout the night! And after looking through the nest cam footage it looks like it continued well into the next day too.
Barn owl scrathes a nest scrape: March 19th, 2018
Watch the male and female barn owl climb into the nest scrape together and then begin preening one another. The male is in the box on his own and seems to want to test out his scrape because he jumps in to it and has a little sit down. Then watch his reaction as the female comes in to inspect his work. He’s a little reluctant to move over! She gently nudges him across and then almost has to shoulder him out of the way. But it’s all friendly because then they begin to preen one another’s faces. This is preening one another essential for the pair to bond before the eggs are laid.
Barn owls mating: March 15, 2018
The barn owls are mating! This footage is from inside the elm stump and its exciting to think that this could now be the site of the next generation. Watch this space. We might even be lucky enough to see an egg in time for Easter.
Barn owl nest scraping 1: March 5th, 2018
Watch this male barn owl as it scrapes a hollow in the bottom of this nest box. Barn owls don’t build nests, but scratch out these nest scrapes instead. The males make the scrapes and then work to attract their mates. If the females approve then this is where the pair will eventually raise their brood.
Barn owls take a ‘snow day’: February 26, 2018
This week kicked off with a severe weather front from Eastern Russia. Known as ‘The Beast from the East’, this involved heavy snowfall, blizzards and high winds. It was so severe I was concerned for the barn owls since they are unable to hunt in high winds and their favourite prey, voles, were hidden under a thick crust of snow. I put out extra food for them. Then the camera trained on the ash stump showed this male barn owl taking a ‘snowday’ out of the harsh winds. Watch it below as it keeps an eye on incoming blizzards.
Owl wars: The barn owls get chased by a tawny owl: February 12, 2018
The cold weather meant there was added pressure for shelter and my nest cams picked up the dramatic moment when a tawny owl chased two barn owls into the elm stump. Watch as the two barn owls fly one by one into the nest box, then follow the clip as I switch to the internal camera to see their surprise to discover one another inside the box. I’ve then switched back to the external camera to show the tawny owl as it follows them both inside the box. Keep watching to see the barn owls’ alarm as the tawny enters the box. The nest cam didn’t pick up the tawny inside the box, but you can tell it was there by the barn owls’ reaction of pure shock! Thankfully the tawny decided to fly out again rather than fight them as they are trapped at the back of the box!
Enjoy this blog post? Then take a look at my other nest cam posts:
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