Ten little owl chicks born in an urban nest box scheme in Ealing were officially registered this week. 

Ealing Wildlife Group started the ‘Help an Ealing Owl’ project with a grant from Tesco’s Bags of Help scheme in 2018.  

The group set up six little owl, five tawny owl and ten barn owl boxes across the borough as part of the scheme.

The new owlets come as welcome news for the less well-known small bird species as the Breeding Bird Survey data suggests that little owl numbers are declining.

Ealing Times: HATCHED: Little Owl babies in Ealing. They can grow to 23 cm high and can weigh 220gHATCHED: Little Owl babies in Ealing. They can grow to 23 cm high and can weigh 220g

Caroline Farrow, vice-chair of Ealing Wildlife Group said: “The little owls have been very successful, one pair even chasing off barn owls, tawny owls, squirrels, and jackdaws from a barn owl box which they then nested in and have successfully produced chicks!”

The Wildlife Group monitors the boxes and will ring the owlets to identify them in future once they fledge.

Ealing Council Park Rangers are partners in the project helping with the owl nest boxes and managing their rough grassland habitat.

Farrow added: “Owls are one of the groups favourite animals no doubt about that! Everyone loves owls so they are great for getting the community engaging with wildlife. Once people discover the more popular species they start to become interested in all the wildlife that surrounds them and want to take care of it. 

“Also, owls are apex predators and as such anything we do to help them has a positive knock-on effect on biodiversity. Developing the rough grassland encourages voles and other rodents, which feed not only owls but other raptors such as kestrels and buzzards. Skylarks and other grassland birds such as yellowhammers, insects, bats, reptiles and amphibians all benefit as well.”

The owlets are due to fledge any day now and aside from their nest box scheme, the Ealing Wildlife Group are instrumental in many initiatives to protect and promote creatures great and small, from bats to peregrine falcons to harvest mice, newts, lizards, swifts, kingfishers and hedgehogs. 

Anyone interested in finding out more can check out their Facebook group and their website www.ealingwildlifegroup.com

Photo credits: Dr Sean McCormack, founder and chair, Ealing Wildlife Group