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Art Knapp
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So Much More Than Plants
So Much More Than Plants
Art Knapp

Art Knapp Surrey BC – OwlCam

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Art Knapp Surrey | Conservation Committment

Update June 22nd 2018

Barn owlets soon to leave their nest…..

The two oldest owlets are now 8 weeks old, so they are getting very close to testing their wings for the first time at night. The parents will coach them out of the box, and will be close by as the owlets figure out how to fly. Barn owls have the longest wing span of all owls relative to their body size. So it does take the owlets a little while to coordinate their wings and fully utilize them, sort of like us when we start to walk or learn how to bicycle. The owlets will likely return to the nest box or be sleeping (roosting) in a tree nearby in the daytime. The parents will also continue to feed them as it does take the young owlets a little while to master the art of hunting.

 

These next weeks the barn owlets will continue with the behaviour we have already seen: more and more wing flapping to gain strength and more wing coordination, and playful behaviour testing out their sharp and feisty talons, which they will soon use for hunting.

 

Relative to other nest sites in the area, these owlets are ahead and will be fledging mid-summer, which is definitely to their advantage as they will have time to learn how to hunt and find food while the weather is good and the rodent abundance is high.

 

Enjoy the final weeks observing these young owlets. A lot of fun and interesting behaviour has already been documented and I’m sure we will see more unique and intimate moments this coming week before we will wish them the best of luck!

Update: May 11 2018

We are really excited to see that all four barn owlets are still with us and growing up fast.

The two first barn owlets hatched on April 22nd, closely followed by their third sibling which hatched four days later on April 26th. The fourth egg hatched on April 29th, making this little one almost a week younger than its first two siblings. This is a big age difference in the “owl world”, given that the owlets typically double in weight every week for the first four to five weeks. The strategy of the owlets hatching at different times is assumed to be linked to food availability – if there are a lot of rodents for the owlets to eat all hatched owlets will survive, but if it is a low year in terms of prey availability, than at least one or two owlets will make it. The fact that the youngest owlet is still with us indicates that this might be a good year for prey, as barn owls in our region typically have about two-three owlets surviving to adulthood, (i.e. leaving the nest). Also mummy owl will try and portion out the food so that all the owlets get fed. The last egg will not hatch at this point, and it is not uncommon for there to be an unhatched egg in the batch.

 

Right now, the young owlets look like “little dinosaurs”, with big talons (legs) relative their body size, a pointed beak and a protruding belly after feeding time. This will soon change when they start to grow their stiff adult facial disk feathers around their face, which will make them look more like an owl and will also aid them in hearing when they one day will hunt their own prey. Their wings will also start to grow, along with their wing feathers. Their blue eyes will also become darker with age, eventually becoming black like their parents.

 

We look forward to following the owlets as they continue to grow up into young adults!

Update: April 18 2018

Spring is here and mummy is on eggs! 

As you can see, the barn owl breeding season is upon us again and we are very excited to see that mummy owl is incubating five eggs. There are other barn owl nest sites in the Lower Mainland where the female is also on eggs. So overall, compared to last year when the breeding season was rather late, this year seems more "normal" and the majority of nest sites seem to be on the same schedule.

The female barn owl will generally incubate her eggs 24 hours, 7 days a week, for about 30-32 days before eggs hatch. She will then spend another two to three weeks on the nest incubating the young, since the owlets are not able to maintain their own body temperature before they reach this critical age. During this time the female and the owlets will be dependent on the male to supply food for them. Mostly big field voles found in grass fields nearby are the Barn owl's favourite prey.

Interestingly, all owls lay their eggs over seeral days resulting in the owlets hatching about two-three days apart, although sometimes it can be almost a week apart. So it's very clear who the oldest owlets in a brood are. The suggested reason for this asynchronous laying is that it acts as insurance for the barn owl pair. If food is abundant, all the owlets will survive, and if there is less at least one or two older owlets will make it.

Interestly, when compared to other owls, Barn owls have markedly smaller eggs relative to their body size. This suggests that they can lay more eggs if there is lots of prey, and in BC they have been documented laying up to 8 eggs.

OUR OWLS

Art Knapp Garden Centre is situated immediately adjacent to the Serpentine Fen Conservation Area. As part of our commitment to helping preserve and maintain our heritage and indigenous wildlife species, we have undertaken an owl repatriation project right on our own property. We are proud to be recognized as one of western Canada’s ‘Owl Hot Spots’. Have a look up toward the back of the Garden Spot and you’ll see 3 of our newly erected ‘Owl Barrels’. They add to the nine we currently have on the property, for a total of twelve owl houses - which house a large number of barn owls.

BARN OWL (TYTO ALBA)

Barn owls nest, on the pellets that they regurgitate, in barns where they find shelter and protection from the elements and possible predators. Barn owls and farmers have a unique, symbiotic relationship in which the farmer provides roosting, foraging, and nesting areas for the Barn owls, and in return, the owls supply very effective mouse traps–themselves! A family of hungry barn owls can consume as many as 1,000 mice per year! In the spring the female may lay five-seven eggs, laying one egg every second or third day. Because barn owls lay their eggs over a few days time, the older ones get stronger more quickly and have a better chance of survival than the ones born last. Quite often, from five hatchlings, only two will survive. The ones that do survive to mate and have young are usually the strongest and their owlets inherit that strength from them. Although barn owls can be found almost worldwide, they are considered “vulnerable” by COSEWIC (Committee On the Status of Endangered Wildlife In Canada) and are disappearing from many parts of Canada.

Barn owls have experienced a steady decline due to loss of nesting sites (fewer wooden barns and more barns made of aluminum) and habitat (wet meadows and undisturbed grasslands to forage for food). Barn owl box programs in the Fraser Valley and other regions of the province help provide nesting sights for these owls.

For more information on barn owl habitat restoration efforts and information on our resident owls and and other British Columbian owl species (Barn owl, Barred owl, Boreal owl, Burrowing owl, Flammulated owl, Great Grey owl, Great Horned owl, Long Eared owl, Northern Hawk owl, Northern Pygmy owl, Saw-Whet owl, Screech owl, Short Eared owl, Snowy owl and the Spotted owl) go here:

Northwest Wildlife - Owls of BC

And for anyone who finds an orphaned owl, be sure to contact the folks at OWL Canada (just down the highway off of Mud Bay):

Owl Canada

Ask us how you can be involved in helping to restore lost habitat for these wonderful creatures.

This project is in collaboration with Sofi Hindmarch, MSc. To visit her page, click here.

Want to see more owl cams? Check out the Northern Spotted Webcam: Click here to see the Live Owl Cam

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