Saturday, 2 June 2018

Tawny Owl tumble.

Last weekend I received a call about two young Tawny Owls that had been picked up below a nest box and the family who had found then weren't sure what they should do for the best. I quickly established that the bottom had fallen out of the nest box so I arranged to go round to see if it was possible to do a repair but I also took a spare owl box with me to try and cover all eventualities.

It was only a 5 minute drive to the house of the family that had found the owls and on examining the young Tawnies it was clear they were none the worse for their tumble but they were a bit too young to be out of the nest. It turned out the nest box was one the family had put up many years before in a tree at the end of their long garden and it had been used by owls for most of that time. Luckily the box was only about 4 metres off the ground and there was a deep layer of leaf litter below it which will have helped give the youngters a soft landing.

The ideal solution would have been a permanent or temporary repair to the box and to simply put the youngsters back in it so that is what I tried first. The bottom of the box hadn't completely fallen away and was hanging open but, unfortunately, the box had become far too fragile and flimsy to allow even a temporary repair. With a repair out of the question I decided to try plan B and put up the new box immediately below the old box and put the youngsters in that. The young owls were bill snapping and would have no problem attracting their parents attention by that means or with hunger calls so I had no concerns about the parents finding them. I was reasonably confident that the calls of the young and the parents desire to feed them would overcome any caution they may have about the sudden appearance of an additional box. The new box was quickly erected and the young placed inside and I arranged to go back a few days later to see how they were doing and to ring them if everything was going OK.

Plan B, the temporary box below the old box. 
So I went back a couple of days ago and was delighted to see both youngsters very much alive and well and looking very comfortable in their new home. Both were at an ideal size for ringing with the smaller chick having its primary feathers just emerging from their pins (sheaths) and the bigger one being a bit more advanced and noticeably heavier. Both were duly ringed and quickly returned to the new box. The parents had obviously taken to the new situation well and hadn't been put off by the new box in any way.

Little and large but both seem to be doing well in their new home.
That isn't the end of this story as there will be further follow up and the old box will be replaced by a new one in late summer or early autumn and the temporary box will be taken down and become my spare box again. Beyond that I will stay in touch with the family and help monitor their owl box in future years.