The Ringing of the Owlets

  • 18th Jul 2011

The Ringing of the Owlets

On the 11th July, I started my work experience with the Design & Marketing team at Heligan. One of the first things I got to do was take part in the ringing of barn owlets and I even go to hold one! A rare opportunity for anyone, that doesn’t come around every day! I was probably one of the few people that would ever get a chance to be a part of such an experience. When we arrived at the place where one of the Heligan team had built a nesting box for the barn owls, we waited for the Head of Conservation, David Ramsden from The Barn Owl Trust to arrive; along with Frances Jaine Ramsden and a student that was with them for the week doing work experience too.

Once they’d arrived, we made our way down the track to the barn where one of the Heligan team had built a nesting box for the Barn Owls. The Barn Owls are watched 24/7 by Heligan Wild, with a camera inside the nesting box and one watching the outside. We made sure we unplugged them and then removed the roof; all three were huddled together in the corridor of the nesting box.

One by one they were lifted out, weighed, ringed and measured. We discovered that we have two females and one male, all happy and healthy. One was then passed to me, I held it with my thumb and finger around it’s legs and rested it’s body on my forearm. I was told when handling the barn owls that if it doesn’t move, then I shouldn’t be worried. They tend to play dead when they are taken out of their nest, it’s their instinct. There is a second way to hold them, instead of it resting on your forearm, have your thumb behind it and your fingers in front like you’re propping it up.
The eldest is now 49 days old, the second is 48 days old and the youngest is 46 days old. 

The eldest will soon be able to fly, which means it will be leaving the nest as soon as its wing and leg muscles have developed.

Phoebe Carlyon.

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