Skylark and spoonbill


On 2 June 2012, after the young barn owls were ringed, we went to the Eempolder nature reserve not far away.

A black-tailed godwit sitting on a pole along the road.

A skylark sings, flying.

This is a video of a skylark singing while sitting.

Hares in the meadow.

A northern lapwing drives away a marsh harrier.

A bit further, a spoonbill stands on a ditch bank.

Redshanks flying and running on muddy banks.

A pied wagtail.

A male gadwall duck swimming.

Also on the Eempolder: here.

Young barn owls ringed and weighed


This is a video about a barn owl nest where baby owls are hatching.

Tonight, the regional ornithological society went to ring young barn owls at a nest in a farmer’s barn near the Eempolder nature reserve. The society has been doing this research for 25 years.

There are six owlets in this nest. The ringing should be now, as the older chicks are about 60 days old and will fly away soon. The oldest chick which had been ringed earlier has already flown away. Some young barn owls which can already fly, will return to the nest to get food from their parents.

The ladder goes up. Five owlets go from the nestbox into the bag.

Downstairs, one questions for the researchers is: how long are their wings? Are they healthy? To find out, they are weighed. Yes, they are healthy. One weighs 340g.

The rings go around their legs.

One barn owl, ringed in this area, was later found in Ukraine. Others in southern France and Spain. Barn owls do not have seasonal migration; but sometimes, they fly long distances until there is a place which they like.

One of the juvenile owls is a darker colour form than the others.

The youngest owlet is still downy, while the others are already all feathers. The youngest one is just 43 days old. The chicks do not hatch at the same time.

Six owlets is a good result. The maximum number of eggs in a barn owl nest is ten. This is a good year for barn owls, as there are many mice and voles. Probably, the juveniles in this nest, as it is still early for common voles, are eating wood mice and brown rats.

Barn owl nest numbers in this area vary a lot, depending on rodent numbers. Rodents can survive cold snowy winters by digging burrows. However, in wet winters, they drown.

Even in good rodent years, many barn owls may die. About 80% of dead barn owls found are victims of motor traffic.

Before the young owls are put back into the nest, the nest is cleaned. Probably, the parents will have a second clutch; maybe even a third clutch.

The Namibia Raptor Rehabilitation Research and Education Centre (Narrec) has urged the public not to destroy the nests of breeding barn owls, as these creatures serve as perfect pest controllers: here.

USA: Barn owls have not been seen in Michigan in over a decade, but a new guest at a bird rehabilitation facility in Grand Rapids has ornithologists excited. According to MLive.com, a male barn owl was delivered to the Blandford Nature Center May 21 after being discovered ill and weak in a barn. Initial examinations were inconclusive about what caused the bird’s condition, but poisoning could be at fault. Fortunately, the bird has been recovering strongly, but it is not yet known if it will be able to be released: here.