This year, nationally, has not been a good one for Barn Owls, the prolonged winter and probable shortage of their staple diet- short tailed voles- has led to starvation of some birds and others not reaching breeding conditions. However locally Barn Owls have bucked the national trend with Wimpole Farm and another local farm both having three successful nesting pairs each.
Colin Shawtry, a Barn Owl expert and licenced by English Nature to handle Barn Owls came to Wimpole Farm to check over the nesting sites and found two nests with two chicks and one with a single chick.
During the check the owlets are ringed, weighed for condition, checked for age by measuring the emergent feather from the primary feather quills, sexed by looking under the wing. The female birds have small black spots on the underwing whereas the males do not.
The probable reason for the breeding successes at both farms is down to their approach to farming being environmentally friendly with good age range of hedges, good field margins and hay meadows. Ideal conditions for the short tailed vole and hence the Barn Owls dinner
More on Barn owls when I hope to see the owlets leaving the nest- from long range with telephoto lenses of course so that the birds are not disturbed