The mornings are getting light that little bit earlier, the evenings are drawing in that little bit later and the garden birds are singing their hearts out at waking and roosting times, sure signs that perhaps spring is shaking out her floral skirt once more.
Here at the Sanctuary too it’s time to prepare for the advent of new life and indeed some of our residents are getting suspiciously broody. With this in mind, Andy has begun to prepare the nestboxes up in the aviaries of some of our paired birds.
Our Great Grey owls are definitely feeling very broody and it took Taiga (the male) mere minutes before he had settled himself comfortably into their nestbox. He sat there calling softly to Napoleon (rather strange name for a girl, but there you go) who almost flew to join him, landing on the perch above the nest box. Clearly she’s not quite ready to accept his amorous advances just yet, but love is definitely in the air.
Fred the American Kestrel was quite impressed with his and Paula’s nestbox too and he sat for quite a while giving it contemplative looks. Meanwhile, Huron our Great Horned owl was most certainly getting in the mood and called and paraded his charms most beautifully for us when we passed by his aviary.
The Southern Boobook owls Tasmin and Darwin looked on with interest as their nestbox was returned to its usual place in the corner of their aviary. Andy made sure they had plenty of stones in their box, as Boobooks like to make a shallow scrape to lay their eggs in. Boobook owls only have one brood per season and tend to lay between 2 & 5 round, pale white eggs at 2 to 3 nightly intervals. The eggs are incubated solely by the female, for anything from 26 to 33 days, during which time she will be fed by her mate. Once hatched, the chicks are totally helpless and dependent on their parents, so both the mother and the father feed them and sometimes will even enlist the help of a second female. Young Boobooks fledge when they are five to six weeks old, but stay with their parents for another two to three months until they can hunt for themselves.
Last year our birds produced 29 young in total, so here’s hoping we hear the patter of many tiny talons again this year!