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Barn Owl - Attempt 1 (TX) — 2010

Barn Owl - Attempt 1

Location: Italy, TX

Hosted by: Anonymous

Nest Build. Date: Jan 01, 2010

First Egg Date: Apr 09, 2010

Clutch Size: 5

Incubation: Apr 09, 2010

Hatch Date: May 11, 2010

Number of Nestlings: 4

Note: These chicks were unfortunately predated by a rat snake.

Photo Highlights (59)

    A Cold Morning

    Jan 04, 2010 -
    This cold January morning finds two owls huddled together for warmth.

    The Male Sleeps Alone

    Jan 05, 2010 -
    Nancyhmo was on top of things this morning when she took this image of the male sleeping alone in the 24 degree Fahrenheit weather.


    Jan 06, 2010 -
    Most people think Texas to be warm. However, current temps have been in the low 20's, dropping into the teens at night. To keep warm, the barn owls fluff up their feathers to hold in air (like a down blanket) and huddle together.

    Food Store

    Jan 07, 2010 -
    It seems that, on the left hand side of the divider, there are a couple of dead prey items. These might have been brought in by the male, for the female, as a form of pair bonding.

    Back Up

    Jan 12, 2010 -
    After the camera being down for the weekend, our NestCams staff being out on Monday, and then the Lab of Ornithology updating servers this morning, we're glad to announce the Barn Owl camera is back up and running!

    Male Vs. Female

    Jan 14, 2010 -
    Participant Nancyhmo wanted to share how she tells the male and female owls apart: "Wing's injured left wing hangs a lot lower at the tip/end then Jack's does. His wings hang almost level across the bottom. No matter what the angle, I can always check their wing tips at the bottom. Wing's are VERY uneven."


    Jan 15, 2010 -
    One of the owls spent a lot of time staring out the nest box entrance this morning. With the camera so blocked, it's hard to tell just which owl it is.

    Changing Places

    Jan 18, 2010 -
    Instead of being in her usual spot on the left, Wing stands on the right of this image while Jack guards the side with the entrance.

    An Empty Box

    Jan 20, 2010 -
    With both of the owls gone for the morning, we can see the bottom of the box. It is littered with old carcasses, pellets, and a lot of other material. No wonder they like to stand on the divider!

  • Owl Feast.jpg
    A Thankgiving Memory

    Jan 28, 2010 -
    Flyhi, in conjuncture with our post on cam memories, sent us in this image of all the Barn Owls at Thanksgiving dinner.

  • _young.jpg
    Location, Location, Location

    Feb 02, 2010 -
    Here's an image of the barn owl box. It is located in the rafters of an isolated hangar in middle-of-nowhere Texas. No wonder the cam can take a while to fix when it goes down!

    They're Back

    Feb 05, 2010 -
    It seems that all the trouble going on with the cams had no effect on the owls. The male is visiting the box first thing this morning!

    Crooked Camera

    Feb 09, 2010 -
    The camera went back up this morning to a strange image. It seems that, in the midst of yesterdays weather, the cam got knocked over.

    Back Up and Running

    Feb 10, 2010 -
    The cam has a new and improved image! Thanks to our cam hosts for getting out there to straighten in out.

    An Owl

    Feb 15, 2010 -
    Despite all of the issues happening with this cam lately, it doesn't seem to have bothered the owls.

    Two Owls

    Feb 16, 2010 -
    After many mornings of only seeing the male owl in the box, the female has finally returned.

    Getting Started?

    Feb 18, 2010 -
    It seems the owls have started mating. Luckily, Flyhi was quick on the draw as copulation only lasts for 10 to 20 seconds, which is relatively long for a bird.

    A Good Study

    Feb 19, 2010 -
    In the US and Europe, the Barn Owl is one of the most intensively studied birds. However, across much of the world, little is actually known about most of the other 28 different subspecies.

    Wing Droop

    Feb 22, 2010 -
    Generally, a drooping wing is a sign of an injured bird. However, many are still able to fly with such a handicap. Fortunately for this female the male will take over more of the hunting responsibilities as egg laying approaches.


    Feb 24, 2010 -
    In yesterday's afternoon sun, the colors of the female stand out. She has a reddish chest that is heavily spotted. The spots may signal to a potential mate the quality of the female. Heavily spotted females get fewer parasitic flies and may be more resistant to parasites and diseases.

    Different Visitors

    Feb 26, 2010 -
    This morning finds two owls in the box. However, neither appears to be the female with the injured wing. It is possible that this is a completely different pair of owls than what we have been seeing.

    More Mating

    Mar 01, 2010 -
    Flyhi, being a night person, was able to catch this image of the two owls mating. Since Barn Owls are most active at night, this is also when most copulation occurs.

    Silent Feathers

    Mar 03, 2010 -
    With one of the adults standing in front of the camera, we get a great view of the feathers. Notice the rounded edges which help the owl maintain silence while flying.

    Getting an Early Start

    Mar 05, 2010 -
    Wild Barn Owls generally have a life expectancy of one to three years. No wonder they can start breeding as early as seven to nine months of age!


    Mar 08, 2010 -
    When Barn Owls groom, they make frequent use of their uropygial gland. This gland, found at the base of the tail, secretes oil that is used in the maintenance of the feathers.

    Head Rotation

    Mar 10, 2010 -
    The female is showing us an example of the owls' flexible neck. She has twisted her head around so she can groom the feathers on her back.

    A Loud Sleeper

    Mar 12, 2010 -
    Female Barn Owls and their chicks have a vocalization known as snoring. It is a short, non-aggressive, self-advertising call that can repeat over long time periods. Mostly, they use this call to beg for food.

    Last Season

    Mar 15, 2010 -
    Last year, there were two nesting attempts in this box; in the second attempt, eggs were laid near the end of March. With an increase in mating activity, we hope that this season will have eggs around the same time.

    In the Back

    Mar 17, 2010 -
    The female has been spending a lot of time in the back of the box. She may be arranging some of the debris to lay her eggs on.

    An Offering for Mating

    Mar 19, 2010 -
    Flyhi sent us in this image. The male brought in a large meal for the female, thus prompting a mating session.

    Waiting Game

    Mar 22, 2010 -
    After mating starts in earnest, it is generally one month before eggs are laid in the nest.

    Common Yet Secretive

    Mar 25, 2010 -
    Despite being common in some areas and often nesting close to human occupied areas, the secretive, nocturnal activity of Barn Owls makes them inconspicuous to most people. Declining populations in several areas have raised public awareness of Barn Owls.

  • _back.jpg
    The Quality of Spots

    Mar 29, 2010 -
    The female Barn Owl is usually more spotted on the breast than the male. The spots may indicate the quality of the female. In one study, researchers observed that if a female's spots were experimentally removed, her mate fed their nestlings less often than if the spots were left alone.

  • and mate.jpg
    Meal and Mate

    Mar 30, 2010 -
    Flyhi sent us this photo of the Barn Owls mating after the male delivered food to the female. Look carefully, you can see the prey still in the female's mouth.

    Another Meal and Mating

    Apr 01, 2010 -
    The female eats her meal following copulation. Hopefully we'll see some eggs soon.


    Apr 02, 2010 -
    Barn Owls regurgitate undigested materials, such as bones and fur in tightly packed pellets. Barn Owls in North America have been found to produce less than two pellets per day on average. Prey remains in pellets can be used to determine diet.

    A Love Song

    Apr 05, 2010 -
    Barn Owls are a very vocal species, especially during the mating season. Here both owls are letting out a call during copulation.

    A Windy Day

    Apr 07, 2010 -
    Though semi-protected in an open hanger, the nest box is still susceptible to the weather. Today is a breezy day in Texas, evident by the slight movement of the box.

    First Egg

    Apr 09, 2010 -
    The female laid the first egg today. The egg is visible just to the left of the female. The incubation period for Barn Owls is about 29 to 34 days.

    A Food Abundance

    Apr 12, 2010 -
    The male continues to bring food to the female. Barn Owls are such successful hunters that there is often a surplus of food stored in corners of the nest box.

    Two Eggs

    Apr 12, 2010 -
    Flyhi sent in this image of the female with her two eggs. Barn Owls are capable of laying between two and eighteen eggs. However, five is usually the average clutch size.

    Three Eggs

    Apr 13, 2010 -
    The third egg was laid yesterday. Each egg is laid a couple days apart and hatching will proceed in a very similar manner.

    Four Eggs

    Apr 16, 2010 -
    The female stands up briefly and we get a glimpse of the four eggs. Barn Owls typically lay eggs in two to three day intervals.

    A Fifth

    Apr 19, 2010 -
    Several participants sent us in this image of all five eggs, the newest laid this morning.

    A Good Stretch

    Apr 21, 2010 -
    After long bouts of incubation, it is important that the female get up to stretch and move around a little. Here, she is tucking the eggs back under her after a good preening.

    Rotating the Eggs

    Apr 23, 2010 -
    The female has just rotated the eggs, which keeps the embryos inside from sticking to the sides of the egg shell.

    Prey Items

    Apr 26, 2010 -
    This female is storing a large prey item that looks more like a bird. Though rodents make up most of the Barn Owl diet, birds, reptiles, and amphibians can be an occasional treat.

    The Female

    Apr 28, 2010 -
    The female is the only part of the pair that is able to incubate the eggs. Thus, she only leaves the nest a few times a day for short intervals.


    Apr 30, 2010 -
    This female has been incubating the eggs for 3 weeks now. Hopefully, these eggs will start to hatch in a week.

    Adult Feathers

    May 05, 2010 -
    Adults are generally slow to molt all of their feathers. It can take approximately three years for a complete molt to occur.

    Quite the Face

    May 07, 2010 -
    Barn Owls, like many owls, have very distinct facial discs. These help to filter sounds to the ears.

    Still Four Eggs

    May 10, 2010 -
    When the camera cam back online this morning, we were able to see that there are still four eggs in the nest.

    The First Chick

    May 11, 2010 -
    The first Barn Owl chick has hatched. You can see it here between the females legs.

    Hello There

    May 12, 2010 -
    We have been having troubles maintaining connection to the host computer. However, we were able to get a brief connection this morning, allowing this view of the female with the new chick on her feet.

    Three Chicks

    May 14, 2010 -
    Once the chicks hatch, things get very busy for the adults. Here, it looks like the female is feeding three chicks.

    All Four Chicks

    May 17, 2010 -
    Images from this morning lead us to believe that all four chicks successfully hatched.


    May 20, 2010 -
    Unfortunately, a snake got into the box late last night and has probably eaten the four young chicks. We do believe, from the viewers accounts, that Wing was able to escape.

    Back in the Box

    May 21, 2010 -
    After the snake was out of the box, it wasn't too long before the male returned. Since Barn Owls can breed any time during the year, we hope that this pair will try again.

    The Adults

    May 24, 2010 -
    Both adults were seen back in the box this morning. The female is on the right and male on the left. See the Video Highlights for a clip of them mating.

Video Highlights (5)

Apr 22, 2010 - Getting A Meal
The male comes in the box with a rodent treat and mates with the female. After he leaves, she promptly eats it.

Open movie

Apr 30, 2010 - Preening
The female takes a break from incubating to meticulously clean some of her feathers.

Open movie

May 10, 2010 - A Feathery Meal
The male Barn Owl brought this meal for the female. It appears to be a small bird, perhaps a thrush of some sort.

Open movie

May 24, 2010 - The Adults Are Back
If the adults do stay in this box, it is likely that they will lay another clutch.

Open movie