It is illegal to disturb barn owls at or near the nest without a licence, if you find a nest site please keep a safe distance so as not to disturb the owls and risk the nest failing. These photos were taken when licensed ringers from the British trust for ornithology visited to ring the owlets living in one of my barn owl boxes.
The oldest owlet waiting to be ringed. Within three weeks this owlet had started emerging from the box and had lost virtually all of its down.
One of the owlets being weighed
A loose ring is placed around the leg. The number from the ring is recorded along with details of when and where the bird was ringed. If the bird is found at a later date the ring will allow researchers to gain valuable information about the movement and life span of the bird.
If you find a ringed bird please report it to the BTO so they can add the details to their records.
All in a row, the five owlets laid in size order after having their rings fitted. Unlike most birds barn owls start to incubate as soon as the first egg is laid. Eggs are laid at two to three day intervals so these owlets probably hatched over a period of eight to twelve days. In years when food is in short supply the smallest owlet(s) may be eaten by their older siblings, although this seems cruel it does ensure survival of the maximum number of offspring. Thankfully none of these suffered that fate as vole numbers have been high this year and the parents have been able to catch plenty of food. On one occasion I watched the male catch five voles in thirty minutes which is an exceptional strike rate. Amazingly the adults will probably have caught around 1500 small rodents during the breeding season to raise these five owlets.