Owl in a day's work at Gunby
Gunby's specialist volunteers regularly check the owl boxes on the estate and enjoyed meeting some new arrivals recently.
In May the volunteer team checked an owl box in the Gunby grounds and found an unringed female tawny owl incubating three eggs.
The young owl was ringed and weighed (she was a healthy 565 grams). Her ring number and weight were noted down for future reference.
Some of the owls that the volunteers monitor already have rings, as they were ringed when they were chicks, so we know how old they are. But this tawny female had no ring, so the team had to make a assessment of her age using her plumage and amount of moult.
Owls shed a third of their wing feathers every year, so by inspecting the different hues of brown in her wing, the team can make an educated guess. They reckon that the Gunby owl is at least three years old.
A nice surprise
When the team returned to the owl box in early June, they were very pleased to greet two fluffy sizeable owl chicks and a very healthy looking mum.
Unfortunately one of the eggs didn't hatch as, for reasons unknown, it wasn't viable. Owl eggs are white and don't need to be camouflaged as the nest is normally very well hidden from the view of predators.
The two chicks were weighed, ringed and checked for any injuries. Both chicks passed their assessment with flying colours and were put back in the owl box again.
The specialist volunteers will check the owl box again in a year's time to hopefully find another mum or mum-to-be in residence.
The male owl will have been in the area of the owl box too, but the female only allows him to bring her and her chicks food. He sleeps elsewhere as his hunting instincts may take over to such an extent that he'll harm the chicks.
Other feathered residents
The Gunby Estate is not just home to tawny owls, but we also have several barn owls nesting in the grounds.
Last year the team ringed and checked this fluffy pair. Aren't they gorgeous floofballs?
The team also had their hands full with a kestrel family that had taken up residence in one of the boxes. We hope they all live well and prosper!
Do keep an eye out for Gunby's owls and other birds of prey when you visit. Have a hoot looking for them and if you're lucky enough to take a nice photo, do share it with us by email to Astrid.Gatenby@nationaltrust.org.uk or via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
That's owl for now....