Owl Breeding Season

Friday, May 3rd 2019

Owls are one of the first birds to breed in this area and so the bird ringers are busy monitoring the one hundred plus large wooden nesting boxes on the training area that surrounds the reserve. The adult birds are checked first to see if they have already been ringed, if not then they are fitted with a BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) ring on their right leg. They are then aged and sexed and the data is all recorded for the BTO before they are carefully returned to the nestbox.

The most common owls apart from Barn Owls are Tawny Owls. Although they don't seem to move very far from where they were born (An adult Tawny retrapped on Thursday night last week had been breeding in the same box since 2009), other information can be gleaned from ringing them. Longevity is one example and some of the Tawny Owls that are ringed by the Swaledale Ringing Team are older than thirteen years. 

Once the adults have been ringed then the nest is checked. In many cases, the ringers need to return again a few weeks later. However, this year some already have large youngsters like this healthy trio below.

All of this is hard work, involving a lot of logistics, a tall ladder, some thick gloves and a good head for heights!

Back at Foxglove, the preparations for the Bank Holiday weekend continued with the filling of all bird feeders. There seems to be a lot of activity at the moment so maybe some song birds are already feeding their young too. 

In the ponds, the Toad tadpoles are developing well and are clustering together, most likely for warmth in the cooler temperatures of the last couple of days.


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