The owl files – Chapter 4: An almost empty nest!

14 October 2023

An almost empty nest!

I wrapped up another successful tour for VENT on Thursday – arriving home at just after 21h00 to the sound of the male calling from the roof. It was too dark, and too dangerous, to try and check on the chicks however, so I was on the roof at 05h00 yesterday to check the nest.

A single chick glared back at me, and I could see the female in one of the River Bush-Willows in the Tea Garden. The male started calling from behind the Centre – so at least one of the other chicks was out back somewhere, on the ground. I went downstairs and checked the trees – finding the male, but I couldn’t find either of the missing chicks and decided to try again at dusk – when the chicks would start moving around and begging. Slightly more luck this time, with one of the missing chicks in the trees with the male.

This morning I tried again and found one chick still in the box and the other two together in the trees behind the Centre.

Spotted Eagle-Owls usually lay at roughly 24-hour intervals, but for the past few seasons the female has been laying eggs three to five days apart and it seems that this unusually-long interval between the laying of the eggs means that the youngest chick is more than a week younger than its oldest sibling – instead of around three days, and is therefore not yet ready to leave the nest at the same time as its siblings.

By Geoff Lockwood