The Barn Owl Eggs

The eggs I found in the nest in the woodshed

It’s spring, so Jon called Greg Burch and ordered seven cords of firewood  for next winter.

From now until the fall Greg will deliver truckloads of split wood, dumping it in front of the woodshed. Each load will be stacked in the woodshed before the next is delivered.  There isn’t enough room for the last cord of wood in the shed, so it gets stacked outside with a tarp thrown over the top of it.

At the end of the season we often have some wood left over, as we did this year.  So yesterday evening, I decided to move the last of the wood into the shed, getting ready for Greg’s first delivery.

After finishing, I was admiring the straight and even stack of wood, when I saw, not for the first time, the torn piece of burlap nailed inside the gable of the shed, with hay spilling out of it.  I always assumed it was a roof rat’s nest.  I think that’s what deterred me, until yesterday, to clean it out even though I knew it was abandoned.

The burlap ripped easily and the hay fell out in clumps.  That’s when I saw the eggs.  Two of them, about 1 1/2 – 2 inches long.   They were old and broken, one had a thick hard mass still in it.  What looks like an unhatched egg.

I went searching on-line to see if I could find out who the nest might have belonged to.  From what I found, I think it was a Barn Owl.   The eggs are the right color and size and the nest had the packed mud (all dried out but still much of it bound together)  stuck in the hay,  the way Barn Owls make a nest.

Of course I can’t help wondering what happened to the Barn Owl.  I’ve read they often come back to nest in the same place year after year. But I know there hasn’t been an owl in the nest since we moved here five years ago.

Because one of the eggs looks like it never hatched, it makes me think that maybe the mother owl died after one hatched and before the other one could.  Or maybe there were more eggs and the others fell from the nest years ago.   Maybe when the owl came back to nest again and saw that  Flo and  Minnie took up residence in the woodshed she decided it wasn’t safe anymore.

I tossed the hay and dried mud over the fence into the pasture, but I kept the eggs.  There’s a shelf in the woodshed filled with old coal and not knowing what else to do with them, I put the eggs there.

There’s a tree in the woods that I visit sometimes.  In the tree there’s  a hole, almost too high for me to reach.  I can’t see into it, but I can stretch my arm enough to get my hand into it.  I’ve left some things there, a feather, a bone that was chewed by a small animal (that I found at the base of the tree the next time I came back) and an earring ( I kept its mate).

I think I’ll take the eggs to that tree.  Maybe leave them inside the hole or at her roots. Somehow that feels right to me.


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