Posted: 07/09/2013 at 08:00
Goog morning all, I've not been on for a while - very busy! A friend has barn owls living in her barn thing and she said that they have not produced any chicks this year and it's a sign that it's going to be a hard winter. Anyone heard that before? It's gone cold here and chucking it down!
I think it's more likely to be a sign that last winter was a long and very hard one, the mice and voles that the barn owls feed on were under the snow and the barn owls couldn't fine them - I saw hungry barn owls hunting during broad daylight over snow-covered fields because they were so hungry. Many barn-owls only just made it through the winter, (and some didn't make it at all) they will not have been in any fit condition to breed and probably the females didn't produce eggs or would not have been able to sustain long periods of sitting on the eggs without feeding.
The problem would have been made worse by the fact that the previous year was so wet that many small mammals drowned, so there was less food about for the barn owls anyway.
Hopefully a much better summer this year will have helped return the numbers of small mammals to a healthier position, and fingers crossed this winter will be easier for the birds.