Coldstream's barn owls fledge, nesting box installed

LEXINGTON, KY (July 28, 2010) — Coldstream's temporary tenants, a pair of federally protected barn owls and their chicks, have fledged and a permanent nesting box has been installed. Barn owls have what scientists call a high "nest fidelity," meaning they often return to the same nest each year.


Barnowl"The owls will come back and find their nest has been closed up and hopefully they will find our box to be suitable since it's so close (to the original nest)," said Kate Heyden, an avian biologist with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. The new nesting box was installed near the owl's original nest near the top of the Lexhold building and provides a plywood space 2.5 ft. wide and 1ft. high.


"I watched one of the chicks take its first flight," Heydon said. "It flew to the rooftop ... of the building, then took many small flights from there to build up its strength."


She said the owl family might still be seen around the building for the next month or so and the adults will stay in the area through the winter. The owls were first discovered in June by a construction worker who was completing final detailing on the building. Wildlife officials were called in and construction halted until the young birds flew away.


Biologists think the numbers of barn owls are decreasing because the owls like to nests in old trees with hollow spaces or in hay barns or other old buildings that are becoming increasingly scarce.