The owl files – Chapter 2: Upping the ante – and then there were three!

19 July 2021

Upping the ante – and then there were three!

The crows were about early this morning .  .  . and I rushed up onto roof to check if the owls needed my help. My head popped out above the wall – no crows .   .   . but the male was on the roof of the box, and the female was on the step at the entrance. The nest was empty except for 3 eggs – she had laid another one!

Her second eggs was laid 4 days after the first, and there must have been a similar delay, or even longer, between the laying of the second and third eggs. This delay is usually only around 24 hours and, because the female starts incubation as soon as she lays the first egg, the embryo immediately starts to develop and the difference in the sizes of the chicks this year will be extreme. We still need to see if all (or any) of the eggs are fertile this year but if they are, the male’s job of providing most of the food has got even harder.

Another interesting development this morning was that the male performed a ‘spread wing’ threat display at me as I appeared – showing that his protective instincts extend to possible human threats to the nest! The first egg could hatch in the next few days, so the coming week will be interesting!

By Geoff Lockwood