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Barn Owl Pair Raise First Ever Chicks | Full Story of Willow u0026 Ghost's 1st Breeding Season 🦉🐥

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Robert E Fuller

In this video I look back at a UK barn owl pair named Willow & Ghost and follow their first breeding season, from the time they first met to the day their three chicks fledge the nest.

To support my channel and the wildlife rehabilitation and conservation work I do, please donate here:
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BARN OWL CAMS
Surveillance cameras hidden inside barn owl nests in my North Yorkshire garden mean I am able to follow the individual lives of owls and share their unique characters with you.

BARN OWL COURTSHIP
The season begins in January 2021 when barn owls Willow & Ghost first pair up. Both owls are young and inexperienced and their awkwardness is palpable. Ghost, who gets his name from his pale colouring, is easily recognisable an easy way to tell the difference between male and female barn owls is that the males are usually whiter.

CHOOSING A NEST
But their first breeding season gets off to a poor start after the pair seem hopelessly indecisive. Barn owls normally nest in spring, and the process normally begins with the male choosing a site and then encouraging the female in to inspect it.

FIGHTING OVER NEST SITES
True to form, Ghost chooses a nest box I put up for owls here in my garden at Fotherdale in North Yorkshire. Sycamore Stump seems ideal and when Ghost shows it to Willow she seems to agree, but there is a problem. A pair of resident kestrel also want this nest and these falcons are ferocious!

LATE BROOD
The kestrels lose the battle for the box and Ghost and Willow retreat to a box in another part of the garden, named Barn Owl Box. Unfortunately, Willow does not seem to approve and Ghost is a very inexperienced lover so the pair don't breed here. Instead, they wait until the kestrel family have vacated the Sycamore nest stump and so Willow doesn't lay her eggs until late July.

THE CHICKS
Willow lays four eggs in total, at intervals of 2/3 days, and the chicks hatch as August slips into September. This is very late for barn owl chicks to hatch most are fledging by now. Sadly the youngest chick does not survive and Willow feeds it to the others although this seems cruel, barn owls don't waste food and it is not unusual for a chick to eat its sibling.

GROWING UP
Watching these barn owl babies grow is fascinating. Viewers of my livestream named the chicks Ginger, Cinnamon and Clove, names that suited their beautiful colouring as their feathers grew.

FOOD IS SCARCE
But it quickly becomes clear that first time dad Ghost is a poor provider. Male barn owls normally work round the clock to feed their young families, but this family are in danger of starving and I decide to help out offering meals to the young to keep them alive.

TIME TO FLY
My strategy works and as October moves into November, the three chicks take their first flights.

WHAT'S NEXT
Barn owls normally pair up for life, so subscribe to my channel to follow future seasons.

I am a British wildlife artist based in Thixendale, North Yorkshire, UK. I build ideal habitats to encourage wildlife into my garden and use nest cams to study their behaviour. These studies inform my paintings. I share the best of my video research on this channel for free. If you would like to support my work please consider a small donation here: https://www.paypal.com/donate/?cmd=_s...'>https://www.paypal.com/donate/?cmd=_s...

Or of course you may like to purchase my artwork which you will find on my website: https://www.robertefuller.com. Many of the paintings are portraits of the creatures you watch here!

© Robert E Fuller

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