Today was definitely a red letter day, both for us and the wood. For a while now we have had some tantalising suggestions that Tawny Owls might be nesting in one of the boxes that we have put up. A trail camera on a pole nearby has produced an occasional photo of an adult owl in the box and, excitingly, on our last few visits we have been hearing tapping coming from within.
We met the bird ringers in the wood, one of whom is licensed to handle owls. However, although he has a lot of experience ringing Barn Owl chicks in the Stour Valley, he had never before ringed a Tawny.
As soon as we approached the box, a net was put over the opening in case there was an adult bird in the box that would try to fly out.
The ringer climbed the ladder wearing his safety specs to protect his eyes should there be an adult in there. Peeping carefully into the box, he saw two fluffy owlets within. Here is the first owlet coming out:
This first chick out of the box was the larger of the two. The length of her hind claw told us that this was a female.
A ring was put on the bird:
Although the young birds sat very calmly, they were clacking their beaks from time to time which was the source of the tapping noise that we had heard coming from the box.
Various measurements were taken while the chicks were in the hand. The second owlet was noticeably smaller yet was heavier, apparently because it had more recently eaten. The flight feathers were still encased in sheaths:
As were the feathers around the beak:
The larger female chick is on the left below. It wasn’t possible to sex the smaller chick using the length of its talons because it wasn’t yet old enough:
The female chick:
It really was a most special and memorable day.