The following photos are not for those who squirm at the sight of dead things. They are of the inside of our Barn Owl nest box. We built a new goat barn over the last several years and tore down the old one this fall. We had put a box in the new barn when we first had the roof on and hoped the owls would move from their old nest box in the old barn to the new one in the new barn. One did lay 7 eggs in the new barn while construction was still going on. But apparently the noise and/or odors from fiberglassing the milk room was too much and the eggs were deserted. However, they raised a clutch in the old barn. Now they don't have that choice.
For the last month or more, an owl has been flying out of the nest box occasionally when we go up to feed from the loft morning or night. When it does, I climb the ladder and look in the box. Until last week, all I saw was an empty box. Last week, it appeared that there was something in the back corner plus some torn paper in the middle. (The box is made of cardboard. We replace it every two years or when it gets too dilapidated from the young owls playing trampoline on the top.)
Today an owl flew out when I started throwing hay down out of the loft for the goats. So I climbed up the viewing ladder. Then climbed back down to get a lantern as there was obviously something in the box. That something turned out to be lots of furry, dead rodents. If anyone can identify dead rodents, upside down and piled in a heap, please let me know. I suspected young rats as we do have some around that Johnny works on shooting nightly. (We don't use poison because of the owls.) But in past years, we've found mostly dead voles in and under the nest site. (If anyone wants to dissect the owl pellets, we have lots and they're free.) I cannot reach inside the box from the top of the viewing ladder to bring the dead things out to identify (without great difficulty and fear of falling).
(Laura McMasters has convinced me that they are voles. Our fields look like vole villages, especially after a snow melt. Voles girdle my baby trees, so I hope the owls keep up the good work!)
Above is the box and the mess inside with the barely discernible dead things in the back and on the left. The photos below show them closer, plus you can see the shredded cardboard. Who says Barn Owls don't make nests?
Below the spot in front of the nest box where an owl obviously sits are pellets. The tarp in front is what we use to cover the hay to keep whitewash and pellets off it.
The above photos are not nearly so cute as baby owls, so I'll add one I took several years ago. You can see the mess they are standing on.
I'll write an update if eggs appear.
Okay, finally an update. I forgot to write when we first saw eggs... four of them... on March 8. I'll try to remember to take my camera with me in case an owl flies out at night and I can scurry up the ladder and snap a photo. She doesn't stay out long so I haven't had a chance yet.