The Barn Owl Trust ‘nestcam’, a webcam set up inside a specially built nestbox, is revealing the secret lives of Barn Owls nesting on a farm in Cornwall. Captivated viewers have watched as mating, feeding, egg laying, and hatching has taken place right before their eyes.
The female bird laid 3 eggs in succession over the Easter weekend, each of which has now successfully hatched. Egg-laying is asynchronous in Barn Owls, that is, does not happen at the same time, but occurs at 2-3 day intervals.
David Ramsden MBE, Head of Conservation at the Trust said “This is the second year we have set up the ‘nestcam’ to watch wild Barn Owls nesting. It gives a fascinating insight into the life of this beautiful bird, from egg laying, incubation and food deliveries, right through to fledging and finally leaving the nest. The average clutch size for a Barn Owl is 5.6 so 3 is well below average. We are really hoping she will be successful with the whole brood this year.”
Owlet development in Barn Owls is comparatively slow. The owlets will need to be brooded by the female for 2-3 weeks to keep them warm, thereafter they will be able to regulate their own body temperatures. At this stage the parents will not necessarily be in the nest box with them, they will be roosting elsewhere getting much-needed peace and quiet after their busy nocturnal foraging trips. Fledging will usually occur approximately 7- 8 weeks after this period, if all goes well.
The ‘Nestcam’ is a fantastic way for people with access to a computer to enjoy the privilege of watching this protected bird. Anyone who visits a wild Barn Owl site must carry a valid licence, so the chance to see wild Barn Owls in the nest is a rare privilege. The Trust receives no funding to run the project. The charity incurs the cost because the ‘nestcam’ is such an important tool for bringing the lives of Barn Owls to a wide audience.
Conservation Officer, Julie Matthews said “Last year we received correspondence from pupils and teachers in schools across the UK and from America. They were watching the ‘nestcam’ site regularly and using it as a valuable education resource. We also had keen wildlife watchers who set up a rota for watching the site and reported the latest developments to each other via an on- line forum. It’s amazing to think we can increase awareness of Barn Owls right across the world via the ‘nestcam’”.
To watch wild Barn Owls via ‘nestcam’ visit www.barnowltrust.org.uk and click on the live barn owl cam icon in the top right hand corner of the home page.
Tags: Barn Owl Trust