Barn Owl Cam

Barn Owls have been raising their young in Ocean Riders’ historic Portuguese Dairy barn for over 35 years, normally producing between 3-4 chicks.  Thanks to Bob’s Adventure Camp, who’s students built us an upgraded nest box, and a donation from Bossio Law, we have been recording the activities of our mating barn owls since 2017.  We are pleased to share this experience with you through live feed from the cameras installed in the historic barn, as well as selected clips we post periodically to highlight the family development.  

Between 2017 and 2018 Owlivia and Barnaby had a family of six the first year and five the second, with all chicks successfully  fledging from the nest box and eventually leaving the barn to find new territories.  In 2018 we named the five owlets after the historic Portuguese dairy farmers who inhabited Frank Valley in the early1900’s: Dias, Nunes, Santos, Lopes, and Brazil.

Meet Barnadette and Owliver, Ocean Riders’ 2019 newly mated pair of barn owls who have taken up residency in the nesting box we provide in our historic dairy barn.   As you can see below, for two years we followed a very experienced pair of barn owls that we named Barnaby and Owlivia, who by March 2018, had three of their 6 eggs already hatched. We hope we will be following Barnadette and Owliver’s family soon.

Ocean Riders’s Golden Gate Dairy Stables boards horses and provides programs that offer opportunities to learn about the cycles of life and the importance of caring for the local watershed which we are so fortunate to share.  Please visit our Program Page to learn more about what we do.  If you like what we do, please visit our Fundraising Page to learn how you can help support our mission and expand our programs to under resourced communities.   

The YouTube videos below are a historical record of last year’s owl family showing highlights of events from mating to fledging. 


Do Barn Owls Mate For Life?

Barn Owls are usually monogamous and stay together for life. If one of the pair dies, the other will find a new mate. There have been reports of polygamy, with pairs raising second broods during a given year with a different mate. There is even one report of polygyny, with two females and one male nesting and raising young together in one nest box.

How Old Are They When They Have Their First Nest/Nestlings?

Barn Owls usually start breeding at about a year old.

Do Both Parents Sit On The Nest?

No, just the female. She has a featherless area on her abdomen called a “brood patch” which is designed to keep the eggs warm. This patch has lots of blood vessels just beneath the skin that transfer heat to the eggs. Incubation begins after the first egg is laid and the female only rarely leaves the nest during this time, and only for brief periods.

Doesn’t The Female Get Hungry While She Sits On The Nest All Day And Night?

The male delivers prey to the female during the time she is incubating the eggs and brooding the young chicks. In many cases the male will bring excess prey that is stored in the nest for later consumption.

What Do Barn Owls Eat?

Barn Owls eat mostly small mammals, particularly rats, mice, voles, lemmings, and other rodents; also shrews, bats, and rabbits. Most of the prey they eat are active at night, so squirrels and chipmunks are relatively safe from Barn Owls. They occasionally eat birds such as starlings, blackbirds, and meadowlarks. Amphibians, reptiles, fish, insects, scorpions, and crayfish are rarely taken. Nesting Barn Owls sometimes store dozens of prey items at the nest site while they are incubating to feed the young once they hatch. It has not been determined whether Barn Owls are specialist or opportunistic predators. Though the owls appear to be specialized in hunting small mammals, this actually may only reflect the fact that these prey items are what the owls are most likely to encounter in their nocturnal habitat.

Do They Only Hunt At Night?

Barn Owls hunt primarily at night, beginning about one hour after sunset and ending about one hour before sunrise. They occasionally hunt during the day.

Do They Eat The Bones Too? Why Do They Eat The Bones?

Owls typically swallow small prey whole, bones and all. Bones are broken down in the stomach to provide important nutrients such as calcium and phosphorus. Any indigestible parts of prey such as fur and undigested bones are regurgitated as a pellet. Barn Owls usually cough up pellets once or twice a day.

The Owl Just Threw Up. Is It Sick?

You probably observed it regurgitating or “casting” a pellet. When a prey item is swallowed whole, indigestible parts of prey, such as fur, bone, and tough insect parts, will form a pellet in a muscular area of the stomach called the gizzard. In North America, Barn Owls have been found to produce one to two pellets per day on average. The minimum interval between eating and casting is about 6.5 hours, but repeated small meals at intervals of less than 6.5 hours inhibit pellet regurgitation and result in large pellets containing remains of many meals. Pellet regurgitation appears to be stimulated by the sight of a potential meal.

How Do They Get Water?

Barn Owls get most of the water that they need from eating their prey. They have almost never been observed drinking water in the wild.

Do Barn Owls Sleep?

Yes. When asleep they will close their eyes.

Do Barn Owls Have A Sense Of Smell?

Traditionally, scientists assumed that most birds have a poor sense of smell because the area of a bird’s brain involved in smell is relatively small compared with the area found in mammals. However, recent research reveals that some species of birds have a high number of active genes that are associated with smell. Scientists have also discovered that some species of birds can tell each other apart by smell. So, though we don’t have all the details, and no specific studies have been conducted on Barn Owls, they probably do have some ability to smell.


  1. Vanessa LeMaire

    Voyeurism or simple delight to be watching the intimacy of a couple of Barn Owls? Congratulations on capturing a mating scene on night #1. Thank you Oceanriders, Bob Hemstock and GGNRA for this wonderful gift to our Muir Beach Community. My daughters will be thrilled to follow the family’s development over the months ahead.

  2. Janie Hansen

    Wonderful work with these magical creatures! They seem to love the safety and privacy of this new box.

  3. Shaaron Murphy

    These are beautiful. I love birds, they are far more complex and social than most people think. These two are a great pair! Thank you!

  4. Patricia Rodriguez

    Never mind. It just started again. It has been happening off and on for a couple of days. My sister and I are addicted and are constantly checking it.

    1. seahorsemarin

      Thanks for the suggestion. We’ve have talked with the hungry owl people many times and our owl box was built using their plans.

  5. Tina Hunter

    Really enjoying watching these fuzzy little guys growing bigger and bigger. Barnaby is being kept really busy providing for these hungry mouths. I have counted six owlets!

  6. kathy lopes

    hello.. im kathy lopes i was there april 29 2017 and it was so great to be able to go home and see the babys and able to watch them i remember when i was a small girl and they discovered one of the rare owls up in the rocks behind the main house..its so great to see the ladys and men at the ranch careing for them and the ranch..they are all sweet people with great love for the owls and horses..bless them all

  7. Tina Hunter

    A few days after Dias fledged, Owlivia & Barnaby were starting the cycle all over again and spending lots of time together during the evenings in their love nest. Today Owlivia was in the nest box most of the day and I’m noticing some more mice in there. I wonder if she’ll lay eggs again soon?

  8. Tina Hunter

    These 5 baby owlets are a strong rowdy bunch! Owlivia is doing a great job and Barnaby is a busy guy keeping everyone fed <3

  9. Laura E Gates

    Thank you for making this camera available. This such a great opportunity to see nature in action.

    1. seahorsemarin


  10. Patricia Rodriguez

    Congratulations on your first egg of 2019! Another one will hopefully be here in the next day or two.

  11. Joyce Schnobrich

    Have been watching constantly and have only seen one owl in/at the box this year, but this morning think I saw 6 eggs that the owl is sitting on!

  12. Joyce Schnobrich

    Trust someone is monitoring these chicks. “Mother” owl gone all night as usual, but has not
    been back at all today – does not seem good. This observer very worried.
    Joyce S

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