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Tawny owls – episode two

For those who were interested in the story of the nesting tawny owls in my Huddersfield garden last year, you might be interested in the news that they’re back (in fact, he never left) and they’re raising chicks.

My trail cam picked up the male owl visiting the nest box with prey during the night last week. Last night, I left a day-old chick on the apple tree stump just before the female appeared out of the box. She spotted the chick, flew down to collect it and took it back to the box. There was the sound of much activity and small voices from inside.

Today, at lunch time, we were enjoying some sun in the garden when she started calling from the box. A few minutes later, the male flew in with some prey. Since he’s providing sustenance during the daytime, it’s likely the young are fairly well developed. Last year, the first youngster fledged on 8th May so we’re only about 4 weeks away.

It’s now 24th April. This afternoon, the male caught a weasel and brought it to the nest. He returned with more prey at least twice during the afternoon. I can hear the youngsters in the box and I imagine they’re getting quite big. I’m expecting the oldest to take a look outside within the next couple of weeks.

A week later and it seems the chicks are growing, so much so that the female is spending a lot of the daytime sitting at the entrance to the box to escape the crush.

Female tawny owl

And today, 3rd May, the first chick appeared at the entrance to the box, looking out on the world for the first time and admiring the garden. Shortly afterwards, dad flew in with supper. Not a bad life!

Tawny owlet

5th May and there are two young birds at the entrance, one quite a bit bigger than the other. The larger of the two is looking around as if he will soon be branching. In fact, a few hours later at dusk, that is exactly what he did. We watched as he climbed out of the box and flapped and clawed his way up the apple tree to ‘branch’. I’m afraid he picked a bad time to abandon home comforts. Last night and today, we had bouts of heavy rain and he looks very wet. However, the likelihood is he will now remain outside the nest and his parents will feed him there in the tree. It will be a couple of weeks before he can properly fly but he will probably make his way around the garden by flitting from branch to branch and tree to tree.

Tawny owlet branching

Bad timing, I know, but a few days after this youngster left the nest, we went to Scotland. I’m reliably informed that both youngsters successfully fledged and, in fact, I could hear one of them in the garden last night and it seems the male adult is still feeding them. A happy ending for another amazing journey.

To see all the images of the family, check out the ‘Our nesting tawny owls’ post.

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