Thursday, 26 January 2012

Barn Owls

Here at our lovely little nursery it appears we have a new and very welcome visitor.  We are already regaled every night with the toowittoowooings of a number of Tawny owls who sit in the trees surrounding the nursery and garden or across the field in the woodland.  We have even been graced with the presence of a lady Tawny owl in the Hornbeam tree feet away from the bedroom window - although her screechings were getting a bit annoying when it got to about 3 in the morning and I was being kept awake.

However, our new visitor appears to be a barn owl!  I am so excited I can't begin to tell you! I went into one of the  nursery outbuildings one day and saw the evidence on the floor as I walked in - white pooh splashes and large black pellets.  Verification of the evidence was secured from the Barn Owl Trust via emailed photographs.  BUT it is even more of an honour to have the owl roosting in our potting shed because it is such a low building.  Barn owls prefer much taller buildings and to get one visiting our shed like ours is very rare.  I am so pleased now that I never got round to replacing two of the three windows that had broken as the owl is flying in through either of those or the door, which is always left open.

Barn owl pellets are the regurgitated remains of the owl's last meal - usually a field vole or similar such creature (of which we have many, a number of whom seem to like running about in the loft in the middle of the night).  Barn owl pellets are large (about the size of an adult thumb) and almost black, with bits of bone and hair evident.

So, in an attempt to persuade the owl that it might like to take up permanent residence, we have built it a nestbox.  I have a feeling it will probably turn its beak up at our attempts as we cannot fix it the recommended 10 ft or more from the ground.  Instead it is perched on a shelf as close to the roof of the shed as is possible.  Not ideal at all by usual barn owl standards but then this owl seems to have standards all of its own.

It is highly unlikely the owl will nest in the building but we live in hope.  If it does decide to grace us with its presence and start a family it will have to get used to the various comings and goings every day as spring approaches and the gardening season gets under way, as there will be a lot of sowing, pricking out, potting on and packing of orders going on every day.  When our nursery was located in Aldington we had swallows set up home right by where we worked and they weren't at all bothered by us and we got to watch them while we worked until the day they fledged.

I'll keep you posted with any further barn owl news if and when it happens ......