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Checking on the chicks

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By Fiona Reid
Farming
Checking on the chicks

ENDOSCOPES are being used in the region to check owl nest boxes for Tawny owl chicks.

The long, thin tubed with a small camera inside are usually employed by doctors but are ideal for Forestry & Land Scotland’s (FLS) environment team to check the chicks.

The months of April and May are when the Tawny Owls typically brood young chicks. Only one clutch of eggs is laid.

The Environment Team use an endoscope attached to a pole, linked via an app on their mobiles, to see inside the nesting boxes, which are typically mounted on tree trunks 3-4 metres off the ground.

Using this method means the team do not have to climb a ladder nor take the lid off the nesting box, which might disturb the occupants.

They’re checking about 40 nesting boxes right across FLS managed land in the Galloway Forest.

Speaking about the monitoring, environment forester Kim Kirkbride said: “Monitoring the boxes allows us to understand the distribution of tawny owls across an area.

“It also means we can schedule any forestry operations around any successful breeding, so we don’t disturb these lovely creatures.”

The data that’s collected by the teams is then provided to the local raptor study group who monitor birds of prey within Dumfries and Galloway.

Tawny Owls are primarily a woodland species but have now adapted to live almost anywhere there are trees, including city parks, urban and suburban gardens, hedgerows, and commercial, coniferous forestry.

Their call is the classic, ‘twit twoo’ call, which is most often heard at night, that most people associate with owls.

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