Our barn (Lookout CA) is used, so the resident barn owls (Tyto alba) are accustomed to human activity. When the owls hear someone approach or the doors open, they fly to the high rafters and remain there, silently staring, until the “intruder” leaves. Neither Leonard nor I does anything unnecessary to disturb them further.
The picture of the female barn owl on her nest, which I posted recently, let me know that there were eggs in the nest. Usually I never know the female is incubating eggs until they hatch. So even though this year I knew the barn owls had eggs, I had no idea when they were laid or when the chicks would arrive.
The white eggs are laid at intervals and hatch in the order they are laid. When I finally realized that the female had eggs in the nest, it was near the end of the 29 to 34 day incubation period because over the last several days four baby owlets arrived. Each day another peeked over the top of the bucket. Since no new baby owls appeared in the last two days, I believe all the eggs have hatched. When first born the owlets are helpless and covered in a whitish down. In about 64 days (9 weeks) they will fledge (leave the nest) and at 10 to 15 weeks of age the young owls are on their own. The bucket nest is quite small, so usually one or two owlets fall out onto the barn floor. The parents feed the youngsters in the nest and also care for the ones that have fallen. By late summer both the young owls and parents will be flying in and out of the barn at night.
The four owlets can readily be seen in the picture. The difference in size/age is noticable in the three heads. Behind the largest owlet in the center, the beak of the fourth baby is sticking up.
Since the number of eggs laid depends, in part, on the availability of prey, there must be plenty of food this year. I do not ever remember more than three chicks. I hope all four chicks can survive to maturity.