Tawny owls usually lay two to four eggs with an interval of a few days between each and with incubation beginning from the first, when hatched, the chicks are all of a different age and size. Competition for food means that in times of shortage only the largest chicks may survive and cannibalism can also occur with the smallest chicks being eaten. We did on this occasion find one brood of four young, known from a previous check, which had been predated by an unknown predator or possibly cannibalised with only a single half-eaten chick remaining in the box.
|Two tawny owl chicks and an egg hatching|
As well as ringing chicks any adults caught by means of a net placed over the nest-box opening have their ring numbers recorded or have rings fitted if they have not been rung before. In one box Richard was able to remove three chicks from under an unusually placid mother owl before lifting her out of the box to check her ring number. On completion all three rung chicks along with the mother were replaced back into the box.
|Young owl having ring put on|
|Richard with adult female owl|
|Young helper with owl chick|
In total on the night we caught two adult birds and recorded and/or rung sixteen young chicks.