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This Tragic Tale of a Tawny Owl Family Has A Happy Ending

Followers of my blog will know how I have installed cameras in custom-made nest boxes throughout my garden and the countryside beyond so that I can follow the individual stories of the animals and birds that I paint. This year the tawny owl pair I was watching faced a tragic loss. But what happened next made up for it.

I have pieced the story of this year’s breeding season together into one watchable video for you to enjoy. It opens with a series of clips dating from the very beginning of the season that show how difficult it is for the tawny pair to find a suitable nest site to breed in. First the male has to choose a safe site, then he needs to fight off any opposition. On this occasion the male had a serious fight with a barn owl and lost – suffering some serious blows in the process!

When he eventually found a nest site, he continued to defend it whilst he set about trying to attract a female to it. I could hear him in the garden calling out to try to encourage a female to admire it. There followed a good deal of mutual preening whilst the pair established a lasting bond.

I use my video research to inform my paintings, like this one:

Three tawny owl chicks, painted by Robert E Fuller. Available as a limited edition print.

The moment came when the first eggs were laid. And this excitement continued as the female went on to lay a total of three eggs until at last the first egg hatched. Look out for the moment in video clip when the female adult helped to chip away the bits of shell to help the tiny chick out. Then disaster struck. The tawny owlet quite suddenly died.

At this point all was not lost as a there were two more eggs. But then a second chick died during hatching. And, worse, the final egg turned out to be addled.

Just as I was staring this disaster in the face I was contacted by a local wildlife rehabilitation centre. The owner, Jean Thorpe, had an orphaned owlet that needed adopting. And I had just the foster pair. I popped a new chick into nest and the adult female tawny owl took to it as though it were her own. The clip below shows her carefully feeding the owlet under her wing. Listen to the full length video below with the sound on – you can hear her purring in contentment as she goes on to foster a further two owlets.

I’ve included some great footage of the owlets as they explored the tree outside their nest and eventually fledged. They are all beginning to move on to new territories now and you can hear the adults shooing them away at night.

Click on the link below to watch the video as a whole.




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3 comments on This Tragic Tale of a Tawny Owl Family Has A Happy Ending

  1. That was an incredible joy to watch. Thank you for your wonderful work both with helping to support these creatures and for the beautiful art work you create. You are an asset to the race of humans as well as to many other creatures on our planet! I will be sharing this wonderful treat with like minded friends.

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