Dirt University - Owl Cam, Live Stream courtesy of ArtKnappSurrey.com
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Update May. 2nd 2018
Our online community of bird watchers have named our 4 owlets. We still have 1 egg yet to hatch, so keep watching!
1st born- Prism at 4:13 on April 22
2nd- Lilly at 16:21 on April 22
3rd- Wiggles at 17:19 on April 26
4th- Mae at 13:31 on April 29
Update April. 18th 2018
Spring is here and mummy is on eggs!
As you can see, the barn owl breeding season is upon us again and we are very excited to see that mummy owl is incubating five eggs. There are other barn owl nest sites in the Lower Mainland where the female is also on eggs. So overall, compared to last year when the breeding season was rather late, this year seems more “normal” and the majority of nest sites seem to be on the same schedule.
The female barn owl will generally incubate her eggs 24 hours, 7 days a week, for about 30-32 days before eggs hatch. She will then spend another two to three weeks on the nest incubating the young, since the owlets are not able to maintain their own body temperature before they reach this critical age. During this time the female and the owlets will be dependent on the male to supply food for them. Mostly big field voles found in grass fields nearby are the Barn owl’s favourite prey!
Interestingly, all owls lay their eggs over several days resulting in the owlets hatching about two-three days apart, although sometimes it can be almost a week apart. So it’s very clear who the oldest owlets in a brood are. The suggested reason for this asynchronous laying is that it acts as insurance for the barn owl pair. If food is abundant, all the owlets will survive, and if there is less at least one or two older owlets will make it.
Interestingly, when compared to other owls, Barn owls have markedly smaller eggs relative to their body size. This suggests they can lay more eggs if there is lots of prey, and in BC they have been documented laying up to 8 eggs!
Over 20 years ago the first of 12 owl barrels were put up, old oak wine barrels seemingly big enough to house Barn Owls, in response to a story on BCTV. It was reported that with old barns falling down and steel buildings being erected in their place, and due to the loss of grass fields, habitat for Barn Owls was diminishing and their numbers were in decline. Farmers were being urged to provide access to their barns for Barn Owls to nest, so that is what Marty VanderZalm, of the Art Knapp Surrey Garden Centre did.
In early 2007 a local wildlife biologist, Sofi Hindmarch was surveying the area for possible Barn Owls and met Marty. He quickly let her know he had already installed some nesting boxes, and a friendship based on a shared interest and concern for this beautiful species at risk was born.
Art Knapp Surrey has continued to support and grow this project, and working together with Sofi are committed to creating awareness in the community of the threats this beautiful bird is facing. There are only about 1,000 Barn Owls left in B.C.
Barn Owl nesting boxes located in Surrey, British Columbia Canada
For more details on these beautiful barn owls go to our website http://www.artknappsurrey.com