The nests of Barn and Tawny Owl have been recorded in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire intensively since the mid 1980s. This has provided a wealth of information, which is used to look at many aspects of breeding success.
|Adult Tawny Owl by Michele Leveque-Shaw|
Adrian Blackburn and Jim Lennon, along with help from other ringers, checked 82 Tawny Owl nest boxes on 21-22 April 2013 in East Lincolnshire, and recorded an occupancy rate of just 17% (14 boxes). Squirrel, Jackdaw, Stock Dove and Great Tit were also recorded. This is very low compared to the average occupancy rate of Tawny Owl since 1996 (36 occupied boxes), and the maximum count of 62 occupied boxes in 2005.
Another nest check was done on 17 May, the number of chicks that had hatched and grown to a size that could be ringed was very small (17 owlets). There were still 10 nests with eggs that may, or more likely, may not hatch. We posted previously about the hard time Barn Owls were having due to the cold spring, so finding that Tawny Owls were also having a hard time was not a great surprise.
|Some reasonably healthy Tawny Owl chicks by Michele Leveque-Shaw|
There is evidence of a lack of prey from the boxes with fewer voles and mice being found, these being replaced with carrion e.g. the hind leg of a Hare, a Carrion Crows head and a few Shrews. Deciduous woodland seems to be particularly effected with more successful nests being in previously less optimum habitats. This is probably not helped by the breeding season for song birds being delayed by a few weeks - this would also reduce the availability of young birds as prey.
Thanks to Adrian Blackburn and Jim Lennon for letting us know.