Barn Owls in the Coconut Tree

Mid-December a Barn Owl was sighted perched on a tall coconut stump at Pathumthani Rice Research Center. This was the first indication that it was potentially nesting there. My old home is in this area and it’s likely the nesting bird is the same bird we have seen around from years ago. One memorable encounter was entering our driveway at nighttime and the Barn Owl was blocking the road with its prey.

Having only had glimpses of Barn Owls at night, and being one of my favourite cosmopolitan birds, I wanted to be able to photograph them. By early January, the coconut stump nest had been successful and there were reported to be 5 chicks visible in the nest. It wasn’t long until I paid a visit.

Barn Owl chicks, probably 5 in photo. 5th January 2022.

As you can see, it’s quite a cramped nest and it was situated very high up. The nest was probably around 10 metres off the ground, fledging from this nest would be a sign of great strength. Exposed to the burning sun 12 hours a day, stuck with your siblings in a less-than 1 metre² and having to take your first flight from a height that would make most people dizzy.

One of the Owls which hatched earlier. 5th January 2022.
Preening at the expense of the other chicks. 5th January 2022.

It would’ve been nice to have the full documentation of what happened at the nest and how many chicks made it. Coming back on the 19th of January, there were two mature-looking chicks left. I’d hope that they were the two of the less developed chicks from the 5th of January and the other two fledged. Food in the area would be plentiful but with a large clutch there’s a high chance not all of them made it.

My favourite photo of the chicks. 5th January 2022.
Barn Owl chicks in the coconut tree nest. 5th January 2022.

An amazing experience to finally get extended views of a Barn Owls. Nestlings in an unusual nest to boot. I returned a few times to check on the nest. The light was tricky with the tree being so high up, the best angles were backlit in the morning, so you could get better photographs later in the day.

I hope this one made it. 5th January 2022.
Two remaining on the 19th of January 2022.

The last reports of Barn Owls were on 23rd of January, so it seems all that fledged had gone by February. It was an interesting experience to witness the chicks in the coconut tree stump. Not ‘stump’ in the usual usage, as this stump was 10 metres above the ground.

All images © 2022 hamsambly

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