The oldest and, quite clearly, the wisest old Barn Owl in Ireland has been rediscovered nesting in Castleisland having moved over from his last known address in Tralee. He had been tagged in Tralee in 2007 and was rediscovered here in Castleisland on Saturday. He had a young family at the nesting site when discovered by representatives from BirdWatch Ireland and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Resident Barn Owl
Many nocturnal motorists in the Castleisland area will have encountered flashes of a white, feathery, fleeting nature crossing roads above the radar of headlights on occasion. That, most likely, will have been your neighbouring and resident Barn Owl.
A bit of encouraging and uplifting news on the environmental front this week came in from Pat McElligott and Micheal O’Clery of BirdWatch Ireland.
“At seven years of age, this makes it the longest lived Irish Barn Owl yet discovered. The nest site of the veteran Barn Owlwas discovered with four chicks inside.”
The oldest wild Barn Owl ever recorded in Ireland was discovered here in Castleisland last Saturday, July 11th.
While monitoring and ringing at Barn Owl sites in Kerry, John Lusby, Raptor Conservation Officer of BirdWatch Ireland re-trapped an adult male Barn Owl at its nest site near Castleisland.
The bird was already ringed and, when the database was checked, it revealed that he was ringed as a nestling in July 2007 at a nest near Tralee – about 13km away.
At seven years of age, this makes it the longest lived Irish Barn Owl yet discovered. The nest site of the veteran Barn Owl was discovered with four chicks.
“In Ireland, at least half of all birds which fledge from the nest will not make it to their first birthday.”
Nesting has been successful at this site for at least three of the last four years. If the same male was involved each year, he has produced a minimum total of 11 chicks in that time. So he’s not only a veteran, but a prolific one at that.
Short Lived Birds
Barn Owls are generally short lived birds, and since ringing began in Ireland in 2008 only a handful of birds ever caught and ringed have been three or more years old.
Barn Owls which are kept in captivity regularly live to be 15 or even 20 years old, but they obviously don’t face the same hazards as a bird in the wild.
In Ireland, at least half of all birds which fledge from the nest will not make it to their first birthday, and it is rare indeed to find a eight year old bird.
A number of sites have been identified which are known to have been occupied by Barn Owls for 20 or more years. However, this does not mean it is the same individual owls in residence.