**OWL CAM UPDATE** The new barn owl pair is still taking up residence in the owl box. We actually think that this could be the pair from last year. The pair seems to be gone for most of the day, but return in the very late evening, and we have seen footage of the two mating. This image is from May 5, 2013 at 8:30pm. Most of our night owl sightings seem to be between 8:00-10:00pm. If you watch closely you may see them courting. Keep watching, we're hoping to see eggs very soon!
**OWL CAM UPDATE** It is with a heavy heart that we report that the owl box was invaded by another barn owl last night. Staff has reviewed the playback footage from Monday , April 15th. At 11:30pm mom and dad barn owl were both in the box and seemed distressed. At 11:45pm a third barn owl entered the box and started fighting with the other two; it is likely that this was territorial. It is unclear what happened to the eggs or the babies. First thing the next morning, staff searched the nearby area for any injured owls, and went up into the box to see if there were any babies left. There were no babies, and no injured owls were found; just the one egg that you can see on the live feed. We do know that an owl was in the box around 6:00am, but we don't know which one. For now, since there is a chance (a very SLIM chance) that mom may come back for the egg, we will keep the camera on for a few days to see what happens. As sad as this event is, we feel privileged to have had a glimpse into the natural world of Barn Owls.
Many of you are aware that Sulphur Creek Nature Center provides a home for a wide variety of non-releasable wildlife, but sometimes we forget that the park also provides valuable habitat for the resident animals’ wild relatives. For the past few years, an owl box in the park has been home to a pair of Barn Owls (Tyto alba), and each year we wait and watch as we try to catch a glimpse of their young owlets. Now, thanks to the generous support of the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District, Castro Valley Rotary Club, and Ojo Technology, we will have a much better view of the budding owl family, and we want to share it with all of you. A small, unobtrusive camera has been placed inside the owl box to give us live streaming footage of Barn Owl family life. We look forward to sharing all the family’s milestones, from mating, egg-laying, and incubation to the owlets hatching and growing into young adults. Check back often for updates on the Barn Owls’ progress and stop by Sulphur Creek Nature Center to see if you can sneak a peek at our stars. For more information on these amazing animals, visit the links below or call Sulphur Creek Nature Center (510) 881-6747.
This season’s pair of Barn Owls began courting December 12, 2012. They have been visiting the box each night and now the female is interested in setting up house and staying for part of the day too. We expect her to begin laying her eggs about mid February. Once egg-laying begins, she will lay an egg every other day until her clutch is complete. During this time she will stay in the nest to incubate, turn, and protect her new eggs. Her mate will continue to visit during the night and bring her presents of food: rats, mice, voles, moles and gophers. Incubation times range between 26 and 33 days. Keep checking back to see how fast these babies can grow! You can view this cam 24 hours a day.
2012: Click here to see videos of the babies!
Common Name: Barn Owl
Scientific Name: Class: Aves
Genus & Species: Tyto alba
Physical Description: The Barn Owl is a long legged, knock‐kneed, pale,
“monkey faced” owl. It looks quite different from other owls. The barn owl
has a white, heart‐shaped face, and its dark eyes serve as a great contrast
with the rest of its body colors. The chest is whitish‐cinnamon, with speckles
all over. The back and wings are somewhat darker, appearing rusty and mixed
with gray. Barn Owls are medium‐sized owls, reaching about 21" in height
with a wingspan of 47".
Range/Habitat: Barn Owls derive their names from their historic use
of man‐made wooden structures, such as barns. The modern use of aluminum sheds,
however, has reduced the number of roosting and nesting sites for barn owls.
This owl is somewhat common in the Hayward area. Their range, however, is most
of the world. The Barn Owl is the most widely distributed species of bird.
They prefer habitats of woodlands, groves, farms, barns, towns, and cliffs.
Diet: The Barn Owl is excellent at what it does best‐‐hunting. They
have the ability to catch prey in total darkness‐‐bad news for the rats and
mice that make up most of their diet. Barn Owls also have outstanding hearing,
and the slightest squeak from a mouse will attract their attention. The Barn
Owl’s main food choice is rodents, but they also eat reptiles, other birds,
amphibians, and insects. They will swallow all parts of the animal. Their body
churns the bones and fur into a pellet, which they then cough up.
Habits/Adaptations: Barn Owls are chiefly nocturnal. They will occasionally
hunt during the day, especially while raising young. Most often the hunting
technique is speculative flights over open country following established routes.
Barn Owls can also recognize the different sounds made by different prey items.
Reproduction: The female can lay from 5‐11 eggs that may be chalky white
or tinged with yellow. The eggs are laid on different days so they won’t all
hatch at once. This sequential laying insures that those born first will survive
if food becomes scarce. The incubation period is from 29‐34 days; the female
does most of the sitting, with the male helping only occasionally. These owls
are usually found in pairs throughout the year.
- A family of seven young owls requires over 100 rats and other small rodents
daily as food. You can imagine how busy this keeps the parents! This is why
owls are so useful to have around.
- The soft edges of the owls’ feathers are uneven on the edges, acting like
a comb to cut the air,
so as it passes; the wing is silent, allowing the owl to sneak up on its
prey without warning.
- Asymmetrical ears help with "3‐D"hearing