One of the pleasures of living where I do is that my village has hosted Barn owls for as many years as I’ve lived here.I’ve followed their lives and the trials they have faced, each season never failing to surprise me that they have managed to sustain themselves and invariably, breed.
In the early years that I followed “my” owls, they frequented the NT Dovecote in Willington, everyone knowing that they bred in the roof space. They attracted many admirers over the years until the NT decided that they wanted to save money and prevent birds entering the building and creating mess. Sadly the Barn Owls left as their space had been invaded and access restricted.
Birds continued to nest in an old Ash Tree in the south of the village and over many seasons, produced good broods of young Owls. Five fledged successfully in 2006 from a single brood.
More recently the birds have struggled after the breeding male was killed by a passing car in flight to or from the nest tree and since then a lone female has remained but until this year, has shown no signs of breeding. The favoured ash tree fell in high winds in 2011 however birds have still survived and this season young have been seen and have remained close to nest and roost sites.
Today I found the adult female with two full-grown and anxious young at the roost site. Unfortunately she had succumbed in the night and fallen from her perch. She seems very thin and with the wet weather in recent weeks, perhaps she was unable to find sufficient food?
Another chapter concludes and I will be intrigued to now see how the two remaining young survive without their mother.