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Barred Owls Parents Tending Chicks

5-12-17 adult owl in nest hole 241For about a month the female Barred Owl sits on her 1-5 eggs (usually 2 or 3) until her white, downy chicks hatch, usually around the end of April or beginning of May. At about two weeks (mid-May) their natal down is being replaced by a white-tipped gray-buff secondary down, and primary feathers are beginning to grow in.  They remain in their cavity nest for their first month.

It is pretty safe to assume that the adult owl in this photograph is a female as she is in constant attendance during the chicks’ first two weeks. The male brings her food which she tears into little bits so the chicks can swallow it. At the beginning of the third week, the female begins leaving the nest frequently to hunt. When she is at the nest, she often takes breaks from the kids and sits at the entrance surveying her surroundings.  At this point the chicks start consuming prey (that is delivered to them) on their own. In a week or two the chicks will also start appearing at the cavity entrance.  By their fourth or fifth week, the still-flightless chicks will leave the nest, but parental provision of food continues until fall.

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12 responses

  1. Alice Pratt

    What a beautiful fluffy face!

    May 15, 2017 at 7:33 am

  2. Cheron barton

    Wonderful story!!

    Sent from my iPhone


    May 15, 2017 at 7:38 am

  3. Linda

    What a fabulous photo! I hope we get to see another photo with little chick heads at the entrance.

    May 15, 2017 at 8:50 am

  4. Kathie Fiveash

    If the chicks are flightless upon leaving the nest, do they stay in the trees? I can’t imagine they would be safe on the ground.

    May 15, 2017 at 9:00 am

  5. Jon Binhammmer

    The same nest site as the cover of your book “Otis the owl”!! Nice to have a go-to owl nest. How many years have they been using the same site?

    May 15, 2017 at 10:52 am

    • Only two that I know of, with an empty year inbetween them, but I have read about one barred owl nesting cavity that was used every year for 30 years!

      May 15, 2017 at 5:24 pm

      • Alice Pratt

        Awwwwww, must have been a very special home cavity! 😍

        May 15, 2017 at 7:08 pm

  6. What a beautiful photo Mary. Classic owl imagery – just taking a break from the kids and viewing her neighborhood!

    May 15, 2017 at 12:54 pm

  7. Mikey

    How do the still flightless birds leave the nest?

    May 16, 2017 at 9:09 am

  8. Laurie

    If the chicks are flightless when they leave the nest, where do they go?

    May 16, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    • They hop out along a branch and hang out on the tree’s branches for a few weeks, until they can fly.

      May 16, 2017 at 7:38 pm

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