Barn owl and a tawny owl start brawling in a bird box

Hoo you lookin’ at? Barn owl and a tawny owl let fly at each other in vicious territorial battle over bird box

  • Susan Howes has had a bird box attached to her stables for the past 20 years 
  • She has welcomed several birds, including various owls and kestrels to bird box
  • When the kestrels arrived she bought a second bird box to accommodate them 

This is the moment a pair of owls began fighting over the possession of a bird box in the English countryside. 

Susan Howes, 71,  had installed the owl box equipped with a video camera in her garden in Broughton in Stockbridge, Hampshire. 

When inspecting the video recently she saw two birds fighting it out in the box. 

This is the moment a barn owl and a tawny owl face off to each other in a bird box 

Susan Howes said she has had the bird box attached to her stable for the past 20 years 

The birds had a brief battle for supremacy before the tawny owl retreated outside

One of the bird, a barn owl, had already taken up residence in the box when it was disturbed by a smaller tawny owl. 

The tawny owl made an attempt to dislodge the larger barn owl, but was forced to retreat. 

According to Ms Howes: ‘The Owl box has existed as long as the stable block (some twenty years) but we have only ever had one set of mating owls there before and that was several years ago. 

‘Then last year a pair of owls found their way into the box and so we put a camera in. 

‘The drama then was the arrival of a kestrel in the owl box and an ongoing daily battle. 

‘We resolved this by putting a new owl box alongside the existing one and the kestrel happily moved in next door. 

‘That year the owls mated and produced an egg but never sat on it. We thought perhaps they were too young to be parents. 

‘The kestrels on the other hand, went on to lay five eggs, accidentally break two and eat them, and then raise three kestrels who all fledged. 

‘This footage of the owl fight was the beginning of a return to the box. For some days after the bust-up, no birds came near. 

But now we have two mating barn owls and have seen no more of the tawny. We are hoping they will be better parents this year. 

‘The second box remains empty. Perhaps the kestrels will return but tawny owl is welcome to it if he gets there first! So the barn owls have now seen off a kestrel and a tawny owl’

Barn owl 

Barn owls are a nocturnal bird distributed across much of the UK, though their numbers have been hit by the use of organochlorine pesticides in the 1950s and 1960s.  

What they eat:  Mice, voles, shrews and some larger mammals and small birds.

Length: 33-39cm

Wingspan: 80-95cm

Weight: 250-350g

UK population: 4,000 pairs

Tawny owl 

The tawny owl is about the size of a woodpigeon and are mainly reddishh brown. They are thought to breed with the same partner and do not roam widely outside their territory.

What they eat: Small mammals and rodents, small birds, frogs, insects and worms.

Length: 37-39cm

Wingspan: 94-104cm

Weight: 330-590g

UK population: 50,000 pairs

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