Silent to the dark

This season we have been lucky enough to have a pair of barn owls breeding in a nest box on the Lyndon Nature Reserve! The box is situated to the left of Waderscrape hide, surrounded by meadows which are perfect for hunting. The box is easily viewable from the hide, and the adult owls have been providing volunteers and visitors with delightful flight displays, hunting over the fields and returning with food for their chicks. The pair from this box had five young this year, who have now all fledged. The following fantastic photographs were taken by osprey volunteer Lyn Howells last week, down a scope would you believe! Thank you Lyn for these photos!

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Barn owls are beautiful birds, with that heart-shaped face and almost white plumage. They are widely distributed throughout the UK, however their population underwent a decline in the 20th century, mainly due to agricultural intensification. They were also adversely affected by pesticides such as DDT in the 50s and 60s.

Adverse weather also doesn’t help barn owls, as it makes it difficult for them to hunt, particularly in heavy rain. Strictly barn owls are nocturnal animals, hunting in the dark on silent wings, but when the weather thwarts their twilight attempts they are forced to hunt during the day aswell.

Happily, in recent years barn owls have been making a comeback, and their population is on the increase! We hope to see them breeding in this box again next year!