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An unexpected visitor returns to our home-welcoming back the owl...

Since I was a little girl l have always been very interested in wildlife. My dad was very knowledgeable and taught me and my brothers all about birds and animals, he would read nature stories to us, he was interesting and enthusiastic and that had a big impact on me. I love to see and hear the birds and it’s always a thrill  when l catch a glimpse of a creature that l have not seen before.  So following on from my last wildlife post, l have some exciting news, the tawny owl has laid eggs on the window ledge again this year! On the first floor of the gable end of our house, either side of the chimney breast, are two  small, inset windows.

When we first bought the house they were not glazed, but were completely open, perhaps they were for ventilation originally, when the upstairs was used to store grain. It is as though, during construction, two large square stones have been left out of the wall.  As this was to be our bedroom, we had to seal them up but wanted to retain the character of the building. Among his collection of finds Sean just happened to have two glazed copper light panels that were the perfect size to use as windows. So he made frames for them and fitted them in. Because the stone walls are so thick, and the window holes irregularly shaped, it was easiest to set the windows on the inner edge of the hole. So this means there is a deep recess on the outside of the window pane about 12 inches wide and 18 inches tall. A few years ago, an owl laid her eggs in the one on the left, and raised a brood of chicks. She returned again but after two successful years, the third year she was scared off and had not been back since. Now 5 years on, after hearing a lot of rustling and cooing in the night,  l looked out of the window in the morning and discovered a newly laid clutch of eggs! They are white and round and look like ping-pong balls, there are three and this amount is typical.

My daughter Jasmine gave me a little wooden owl whistle so that I can call like the owls and sometimes they answer. Tawny owls make  the familiar  “to wit - to woo” sound that people always associate with owl calls. They are also sometimes known as brown or wood owls, and they generally live and hunt in woodlands. Once a male and female have paired up they mate for life and can live for up to 18 years. They eat mainly mice and voles, but have also been known to catch small fish from wild ponds and small birds. They have beautiful big brown eyes and lush mottled brown and golden feathers, which allow them fly silently so as not to tip off their unwitting prey. The owlets or baby owls are rather gawky compared to the adult birds, and are covered in crazy, unruly looking grey fluff, bless.


So, all being well, what can we expect?


The incubation period for the eggs is around 30 days, the female owl will leave the eggs occasionally to feed and then when the chicks are newly hatched, she will keep them warm and the male will bring her food for the first few days. Once they are a few days old both parents will hunt and bring food back to the growing chicks. The chicks remain in the nest for 30-40 days before they are grown enough to fledge. We must do our best to make sure the mother owl is not disturbed and if we can do so without disrupting her we may try to get some video footage, but of course, we will keep you updated of the progress.

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4 Comments


Owl cam? Not a streaming camera, which would kill your internet connection, but something that could take pictures once an hour and post to your website.

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This is so exciting! I hope you are able to manage a couple pictures along the way.

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Oh, Sam!!!! I love love love owls, how cool you have one you can watch at close range. We have screech owls where we live, they make an eerie sort of call when their babies are ready to fledge. Sean was saying how thick the walls are and now I can see what he was talking about.

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Pam Rice
Pam Rice
Mar 19

Oh Sam, how wonderful the tawny owl has returned! They are so beautiful, I hope you are able to get some pics and video! I love owls. My first house here in Louisiana had a backyard full of large trees! We always had owls but I've moved into the city so I don't see or hear them as much now.

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