Nest Boxes

Sunday, January 10th 2016

Yesterday the nest box team repaired or replaced 12 Tawny Owl/Kestrel boxes on the training area. This is not an easy job as there is sometimes a considerable distance to travel between the boxes and some way to walk from where landrovers have to be parked. Ladders, nails, hammers and sawdust all have to be carried to the site. Oh and not forgetting the boxes themselves!

You can see how wet the ground was and how high the river, after all the rain that has fallen.

Putting up the nest box

Nest boxes for Tawny Owls need to be over 2.5m above the ground. A clear flight path is helpful but not necessary. This one might just fit the bill.  From now on you will be able to hear the calls of the Tawnies as they begin to set up their territories. Some of the owls that have been ringed on the training area have used the same nest box for 16 years, which is amazing considering that the average lifespan is only five years.

Putting up a nest box

Eggs are laid, from mid Feb through to late March, on the bottom of the box which our volunteers have given a thick layer of sawdust. Two to three white eggs are laid and hatch in about 30 days. Chicks fledge after 35-39 days.

Nest box repair

Hopefully, in a few months, we will very skillfully and carefully be catching and checking the adults and ringing the Tawny Owl chicks.

 Tawny Owl

Kestrel boxes are placed about 4m above ground level. They nest later than the owls, from early April through to early July. Four to five reddish brown speckled eggs are laid, hatching about 28 days later with the chicks fledging after 32 to 37 days.


In both cases incubation begins as soon as the first egg is laid, so the age difference between the first chick hatched and last, can be 6 days in a Tawny Owl nest and more in a large clutch of Kestrels. If food is short then it is often the youngest birds that will not survive.

There are still four more boxes to replace/repair.  We look forward to improvement in the weather to make the task a little easier!  Thank you for the team for all their hard work yesterday. 

PS The beginning of this blog mentions the amount of rain that has fallen over the last few weeks.  Volunteers have been soaked and very muddy on numerous occasions.  Sunrises and sunsets have been non-existent, until this evening.  Leanne photographed this magnificent sight when leaving the reserve late this afternoon - what a stunning picture!


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