Nesting season is upon us and here at CJ Wildlife we’re delighted to celebrate this time of year with a special new feature on our website: live webcams!
Head to the webcam section of the site and you'll be able to watch live footage of a host of species as they lay their eggs and raise their young over the coming weeks.
Three of our camera stars are members of the owl family, so we thought we'd tell you a little bit more about these species and what you sort of behaviour you can expect to see on your screen.
The Tawny is the UK's most common owl species and the most likely to visit your garden. Primarily a woodland bird, these owls do sometimes inhabit urban areas provided there are plenty of large trees for them to rest in.
Our resident female has already laid three eggs and these are normally incubated for around 30 days, meaning they should hatch at some point in late March/early April. Both the female and male will then be busy feeding the youngsters with rodents and perhaps the occasional bird and even a young rabbit or two.
The chicks will fledge after around 35 to 40 days, but will typically stay under the watchful eye of their parents for a couple of months before heading out to forge a territory of their own in late summer or autumn.
Tawny Owls are nocturnal, so view the cameras after sundown for the majority of activity. Taking a look in the daytime is still worthwhile for a chance to see the female sleeping and for a close-up of the chicks once they've hatched.
Our Tawny Owl enjoys a snack
The Barn Owl is one of the UK's most iconic birds and we're delighted to have a nest on camera. As the name suggests, this species is happy to take advantage of man-made features when nesting and regularly raises its young in buildings.
Barn Owls typically incubate their eggs for 32 days and chicks will spend around 50 to 60 days in the nest before taking their first flight. A little smaller than Tawny Owls, Barn Owls are rodent specialists, with voles, shrews and mice accounting for the vast majority of their diet.
Like the Tawny, the Barn Owl is nocturnal, so take a look at the camera after dark to catch the most activity!
A sleepy Barn Owl
Our third owl species on camera is the Little Owl. As the name suggests, this is the UK's smallest owl species, typically less than half the size of the Tawny or Barn Owl. The Little Owl is not actually native to Britain; it was introduced in the 19th century and has since spread across much of England and Wales.
This cute species tends to lay its eggs between April and May and will incubate for roughly 30 days. Its chicks will fledge around 37 to 40 days after hatching. Compared to our other webcam owls, Little Owls are not quite so strictly nocturnal, but still do much of their hunting at night. Like their larger counterparts, they will readily hunt rodents, but much of their diet is made up of insects and worms.
One of the Little Owls surveys its surrounds.
You can keep up to date with the latest goings-on on the webcams, or share your own observations, by following us on Twitter and Facebook. We'll also be featuring highlights in our email newsletter - click here to sign up. Want to see the nesting behaviour of your local birds? Take a look at our nest boxes with built-in cameras.
Webcam feeds are provided by the Beleef de Lente Project with thanks.
(First image from iStock/iculizard)