Posted by: atowhee | April 16, 2021


I have had numerous creatures–hominid and otherwise throw a hissy fit because of my intrusion. Fellow employees. Garter snake or copperhead. Praying mantis. Mother hens or female geese. Today was the first time the hissy fit came from a quintet whose total age would be less than six months. If you have heard Barn Owls, you know they have a unique voice among owls. No deep-throated hoots, no warbling monologues like you get from screech-owls. It is an adult screaming or the young squealing for food, or hissing at intruders.

First image shows the nest cam viewed on screen in the barn where the nest is located in southern Marion County. Then the hissy quintet themselves, each a different age as is usual in owl clutches. Then the owls’ entry/exit on the west side of the barn away from morning light and hot summery southern exposure. The box itself is perfectly sized and maintained. The farm owners are excellent owl hosts, and the owls repay by eating many small mammals.

Note the owlet in far left has his beak wide open to better hiss at me.

Barn Owls breed in ways similar to many other owl species. Eggs are laid an average of about 2.3 days apart. And that is how they will hatch because the female begins brooding with the first egg. With these five the first-born will be about 8-10 days older than the last one born if there were only five eggs to begin with. Five to seven is usual for a nesting owl couple, but there are records of up to 18, or as few as two if food is scarce.

The owlets are naked and blind (eyes closed) when born. Each weighs less than an ounce!
it is anywhere from 7 to nine weeks after hatching, before these young will be ready to fly. Generally the older will fly first as they are usually larger and more matured. Even after they can fly the owlets will remain dependent on mom and dad for food for another three to five weeks.

The main source of food for Barn Owls: small mammals. They are a successful species, found on each continent, except Antarctic. After a day and a half of travel (years before pandemic) my wife and I were in Uganda for birding, arriving at night. I got up before our first sunrise, there on the hotel roof my my first Uganda life bird–a Barn Owl, hissing down at me.

Elsewhere around Ankeny it was good day for more white birds: Great Egret loner, small gang of Snow Geese among the thousands of Cacklers.

Yesterday we added solar-powered bubblers to our bird baths. It didn’t take a full hour before the siskins were back in the pool, regardless of the new technology:

Ankeny NWR, Marion, Oregon, US
Apr 16, 2021
28 species

Snow Goose  18
Cackling Goose  3000
Canada Goose  8
Northern Shoveler  X
Mallard  X
Lesser Scaup  X
Bufflehead  X
Pied-billed Grebe  1
American Coot  X
Killdeer  X
Great Egret  1
Turkey Vulture  X
Osprey  1
Bald Eagle  2     nesting along Pintail Marsh south edge
Barn Owl–five owlets in a nest box
California Scrub-Jay  2
American Crow  1
Tree Swallow  X
Violet-green Swallow  X
Bushtit  X
European Starling  X
House Sparrow  X
Pine Siskin  X
Song Sparrow  X
Red-winged Blackbird  X
Brown-headed Cowbird  1     first of the year, at Pintail Marsh
Brewer’s Blackbird  X
Yellow-rumped Warbler  2


  1. […] Back in mid-April I got to visit a family of Barn Owls in a private barn near ANKENY NWR. You can cl… […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: