Last year the barn owl (Tyto alba) pair in our barn (Modoc County CA) fledged five youngsters. What a success! This season has been a different story. Only two chicks hatched this year. Leonard and I also believe that one of the parents died. For about a week only one adult has been in the barn.
As the barn owl chicks grow and the nest becomes crowded the older siblings fall (jump?) to the barn floor. The parents continue to successfully care for their offspring on the floor until the young owls can fly to join their parents in the barn rafters. This happens every year. Nothing odd about that.
This year though one young owl is behaving strangely. Several days ago Leonard discovered one young barn owl near the house. It had left the barn and was standing in the open sunshine. This young owl was too young to fly and could not care for itself. Leonard carefully returned the little owl to the barn floor. Since we assumed it accidentally worked its way through a crack or hole in the barn siding, Leonard closed all potential exits. For the last three mornings the little owl has again been outside of the barn – once several hundred yards away. How is it getting out? Why does this owl continue to leave the relative safety of the barn? Leonard continues to return the young barn owl to the shelter of the barn floor each morning, however we are concerned since great horned owls, coyotes, and bobcats, as well as other predators, are frequent visitors in our yard. With luck this story will have a good ending, but Leonard and I are not optimistic if the little owl continues to wander about in the night.
There is so much we do not understand. . .