Long-eared Owl Female and young at nest. In most seasons the youngest chicks starve, or are sometimes even killed by their brothers or sisters. Whilst in the incubation stage, the female is extremely protective of her eggs. The chick continues to develop inside of an embryo in the egg so it must be handled with absolute care and caution. There are two ways to reproduce: In the case of most Owl species, especially those found in temperate or sub-Arctic regions, breeding occurs during the spring. The male will usually try and attract a female to a suitable nest site and may use special courtship flights, calls and offerings of food.
The eggs are rounded and white; there is little need for cryptic markings given the concealed nature of most nest sites, and the vigour with which they are defended. Mating usually happens by the male impressing the female by a special call, dancing and showing off there strong shoulders, and in most cases those two birds will be together for life. The eggs female gamete will be individually fertilized then they will leave the ovary. Burrowing Owls nest underground in abandoned burrows dug by mammals, or, if soil conditions allow they will dig their own burrows. Smaller prey can be swallowed whole by the chicks as they get older. If all the young were fed equally there would be a chance that all might starve in years of poor food supply. During mating seasons, the cloacal openings of both male and female birds swell, protruding slightly outside their bodies. Owls lay between one and thirteen eggs, depending on the species and also on the particular season; for most, however, three or four is the more common number. Some larger species, however, may not begin breeding until their second or third year. This time can vary from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the owl species. Holes in trees are another preferred site for a wide variety of Owls, and a few species, notably the Barn Owl, have adopted the man-made equivalent of these sites - namely, holes in barns and other outbuildings. Owls are territorial, a fact that is particularly evident during the breeding season. By Deane Lewis Owl Reproduction For Owls, as with other birds, the period during which nesting and rearing young occurs is the most important part of the annual cycle. Instead, both male and female birds have what's known as a cloaca. Incubation of the eggs usually begins when the first one is laid, and lasts, in most species, for around thirty days. With some Owl species the pair bonds last only for the duration of the breeding season, especially if the species involved is dispersive or migratory. Attacks on intruders are invariably uninhibited and vicious if the intruder stands its ground. The calls of sedentary species often involve duets between established pairs, rather than individual birds. A Spotted Owlet at its nest hollow. As a result, it is rare for all the chicks that hatch from a clutch to survive, except of course when food is plentiful. Courtship rituals vary from species to species, but invariably involve calling. When birds are feeling frisky, they rub their swollen cloacas together. The cloaca is an internal chamber that ends in an opening, and through this opening, a bird's sex organs — testes or ovaries — discharge sperm or eggs. Female owls, like many other birds, develop a sparsely feathered area on their bellies called a brood patch. Year-round residents such as Tawny Owls and Eagle Owls will defend their territories throughout the year, their efforts extending to offspring of the previous year once they are more than a few months past fledging.
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