Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Eight Barn Owl Eggs!
Tonight I took my camera and a flashlight with me when I climbed up into the loft. I saw an owl fly out of the nest box so I scurried up the viewing ladder, turned on my flashlight and took a quick photo of the eight eggs. How they stay that white in that mess is a mystery to me.
There were several dead voles in the box... hard to tell how many since some may be mixed in with the mess. After reading about the Snowy Owl irruption on the east coast this year being triggered by a population explosion of lemmings last year and seeing a photo of a 2013 nest with seventeen lemmings ringing it, I realized that our owls are simply catching whatever they find and right now, our fields are riddled with vole holes. I walked through a field today while putting up more swallow nest gourds and it looks like the voles are going through one of their periodic population explosions. You can't walk without stepping on a runway or hole. So that is likely why we are seeing so many more stashed dead things in the nest box than usual.
Snowy Owls apparently laid more eggs last year than usual and fledged more owlets because of the abundant food supply. I did not realize that owls lay more eggs in years of plentiful food. Our Barn Owls usually lay six or seven eggs, but fewer some years. I'll check my records tomorrow but I think eight is a new record. And who knows if she's done laying!