The owl files – Chapter 3: Still sitting!

06 November 2022

Still sitting!

The madness continues.

Last season, the female disappeared for over a month just after the chicks fledged – totally strange and atypical behaviour!

This year again, the female seems to have cut all ties with the chicks and began laying a second clutch less than two weeks after the chicks had left the nest. She continues to incubate her second clutch of three eggs – plus what looks like two larger eggs that were probably laid by another species.

The most likely candidate as ‘cuckoo’ would be the Egyptian Geese that have been waiting their turn for the box. The eggs seem too small however and, also, how did the culprit manages to get into the nest with the female sitting as tight as she has been????

While females do re-lay if a clutch fails, or the fledgelings die soon after they leave the nest, this season’s behaviour is really unprecedented, and very difficult to explain.

The chicks have now both fully-moulted into adult plumage and are now very difficult to tell apart from the adults. They continue to roost together, and this evening they were both under the overhang of the function room roof. They have been hunting some of their food – mostly smaller prey such as insects etc. for several weeks but are still semi-dependent on the male. The good news is that the recent rains will bring out more insects – making it easier for the chicks to sharpen their hunting skills and catch more food for themselves, taking a bit of pressure off the male.

By Geoff Lockwood