Owl food

Barn owl Tyto alba nest box

Barn owl nest box

Barn owl Tyto alba subsp. affinis feather

Barn owl feather

We are not the only family living at Phillipskop. We have an owl box in the eaves of our roof that is occupied by a family of barn owls. There are two parents and we believe two chicks, although sightings are difficult as they only start stirring once it is dark. The greatest evidence of their presence is the large number of owl pellets that get left on our decking each morning, and the eery screeches (barn owls don’t hoot) as the parents go off to hunt and the chicks are left behind.

Barn owl Tyto alba pellet

Barn owl pellet

Owl pellets are a mixture of fur and bones that the owls cannot digest but are regurgitated after the rest of the animal has been consumed. It is hard to make out what animals contributed to the owls diet from the pellets alone, though careful dissection and a knowing eye could reveal tell-tale bones. However, sometimes the animals provided by the parents have clearly proved too large for the chicks and we find the whole creature discarded beneath the nest. Here are two we found the other day, a small mole and a striped mouse (minus head). We hope you don’t find these pictures too gruesome but a fascinating insight into the diet of our birds.

Barn owl Tyto alba subsp. affinis prey: mole

Barn owl prey: mole

Barn owl Tyto alba subsp. affinis prey: striped mouse

Barn owl prey: striped mouse

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