The love between barn owls Gyflie & Finn was indisputable. This pair were inseparable, as to devoted to each other as they were to their chicks. And this legacy lived on in their chicks, even after devoted owl dad Finn sadly died.
Securing a nest
The story begins in January 2022 as these barn owls earch for the perfect nest. Female Gylfie dithers and the pressure mounts as kestrels and tawny owls begin taking the best spots. Eventually there’s only one option left, a nest box I madem from old elm tree stump.
Despite being an established pair, this owl couple must renew their bonds, and their fresh devotion is touching – Finn seems reluctant to leave Gylfie’s side.
In May Gylfie lays her first egg, then one every two-to-three-days until she has four. Unlike some birds of prey, barn owl eggs are incubated as soon as they’re laid and so Gylfie begins the long process, whilst Finn brings her food.
After a month of incubation, the first chick hatches. Then another two. One egg fails to hatch and Gylfie discards it.
As the chicks grow, their characters develop. Viewers of this channel nickname them Freya, Griffin and Fern, from eldest to youngest. With eight days between them there’s quite a size difference. As Freya grows, she becomes quite fiesty, rudely snatching food from her parents.
A heatwave strikes and the countryside quickly dries up. Water is scarce and the wildlife begins to seek out animal water troughs in the surrounding farmland.
When Finn doesn’t turn up one day, I search more than 20 troughs and find him tragically drowned.
Supporting the owl family
Now that Gylfie must care for the chicks alone, I help out with food deliveries.
Chicks show affection
After their father dies, I notice an unusual bond developing between the barn owl chicks. Where normally I would expect them to compete for food, the trio begin to share.
At seven weeks, the chicks are tagged. Now it will be possible to trace them through the rest of their lives. Gylfie gets a new mate As the chicks become more independent, I notice Gylfie spends more time away. It is soon clear she has a new mate. We check this male owls’ ID ring and discover he is a rescued owl who grew up here at Fotherdale – alongside Finn!
At the end of July, Freya fledges the nest, followed over the following weeks by Griffin and Fern. Freya, Griffin and Fern have come a long way since they were tiny owls and have had to overcome the loss of their father. After such a start, it is so wonderful to watch these chicks fly free and strong.