Let us start by saying it is not common for Barn Owls to have two clutches in a year. In fact, less than five percent of pairs will have a second batch of owlets in a year.
Out of all the nest boxes that Sofi has monitored this year (over eighty in the region), there was a pair in Richmond that had a second clutch.
“[It is] not surprising that it was this Barn Owl pair having a second clutch as they have done very well over the past two years”, remarks Sofi. She also points out that they already fledged a batch of five owlets earlier this summer.
Barn owls are a Threatened species in British Columbia.
Loss of suitable hunting grounds and nest sites threaten their continued survival in our area. Installing nest boxes and creating old field habitat can provide alternative nesting sites near areas where they can hunt for food.
We are grateful that the City of Richmond has a nest box and old field habitat program to support their resident Barn Owls. Sofi monitors and maintains Richmond’s nest boxes to ensure that the Barn Owls are happy and healthy in their human-made homes.
She noticed this pair had a second clutch when she went to clean the nest box early November, so she stopped by last week to check on their progress.
However, as Sofi approached the box, she noticed something on the ground.
There, hiding in some shrubs right underneath the nest box pole, was a young female Barn Owl. Sofi took great care not to startle her. She pretended not to see the owl as she quietly approached. Then Sofi gently picked her up to examine her and determine if she had any injuries.
But the problem was that Sofi’s work truck had a flat tire that morning. This meant she had to leave her ladder at home as it doesn’t fit in her electric car. She usually does not need to climb up to look in the boxes because she uses a camera on a pole.
Luckily, Sofi knows people who care about the local owls. She immediately phoned Rich Kenny at Richmond Nature Park.
He reached out to the Richmond Fire Department who quickly sent a crew from Richmond Fire Ladder 7.
In under ten minutes, the fire crew was on site ready to help.
They carefully set up their ladder, as to not disturb the other owlets, and reunited this young owl with her four siblings in the nest box.
The discovery of this fallen owl and her rescue was just in the nick of time. It soon started to rain heavily.
She likely fell from the nest box the night before. The young owl was otherwise in good health.
“This can happen at this age, as the owlets start to venture outside the box and play on the roof and the balcony,” Sofi explained.
Sofi, the FVC, Richmond Nature Park, and the Richmond Fire Department all rejoiced at her rescue.
It is very probable that the Barn Owl would not have survived another night on the ground with coyotes and raccoons patrolling around.
It is also not likely that she would have been fed. Adult Barn Owls tend not to feed owlets that have fallen out of the nest prematurely.
Sofi knows that owlets are vulnerable. This is why she takes the time to check up on them and make sure they are alright.
The FVC’s Barn Owl Monitoring Program works to overcome the many challenges that Barn Owls face.
This important work helping recover a species at risk is made possible by our wonderful donors as well as funding from the City of Richmond and Environment and Climate Change Canada.