Barn owl chicks Ginger, Cinnamon, and Clove had a tough start in life with an inattentive owl dad, but they grew up to be beautiful owls. This story is about another pair of barn owls, Willow and Ghost, and their first clutch of chicks.
Late last summer, Willow and Ghost laid four eggs in a Sycamore Stump nest box. All four eggs hatched successfully, but sadly the fourth chick did not make it.
Although Ghost started off well, providing Willow with regular meals while she incubated their eggs, he disappeared for so long once the first chick started hatching that Willow had to leave the eggs to find her own sustenance.
These disappearing acts continued as the second and third chicks hatched, and it felt like Ghost was living up to his name. As the chicks grew, thanks to the tireless support of their owl mum Willow, Ghost’s attentions continued to be intermittent. One day, he arrived with a meal, but seemed very unclear how to actually feed the chicks.
Male barn owls do not feed their chicks, and thankfully Willow was on hand to tear up the food so that the chicks could manage it.
Unfortunately, Ghost just didn’t bring in enough food, and what little he did bring, the older chicks devoured, leaving the youngest without enough food, and eventually it perished.
Unlike kestrels, barn owls do not share out food evenly to give all their chicks a chance, and the elder siblings are normally considerably bigger than the youngest.
However, Willow’s remaining owlets seemed to take care of one another and even shared their food. They grew stronger every day, and their pin feathers began to grow through as they flapped their wings, ready for their first flights.
The struggles faced by these barn owls highlight the importance of owl conservation efforts. With increasing habitat loss and other human-caused threats, it is crucial that we work to protect these beautiful birds and their habitats.
Organizations like the Barn Owl Trust and the International Owl Center are doing important work to educate the public and advocate for owl conservation.
By learning more about barn owls and their behavior, we can better understand the challenges they face and work to protect them for future generations to enjoy.
And who knows, perhaps one day we’ll be lucky enough to witness the incredible sight of baby barn owls like Ginger, Cinnamon, and Clove and their siblings taking their first flights into the wild.