As the Duhallow Raptor survey for Long-eared Owls winds down for this season, the results are stark. There has been a widespread breeding failure this year with only two chicks fledging from a single nest, from 14 known nest sites.
These results have been replicated elsewhere in the country with the breakdown roughly as follow:
Duhallow 14 sites, 2 chicks at 1 site.
Clare 1 site, no chicks
Connemara 2 sites, no chicks (though 3 eggs were laid in 1)
Dublin 4 sites, 1 chick.
Galway 5 sites, no chicks
Kerry (outside Duhallow) 5 sites, 1 chick.
Mayo 2 sites, no chicks
West Offaly 19 sites, 1 chick.
TOTAL 62 sites, with only 5 chicks at 4 sites.
Empty Long-eared Owl nest.
A perfect breeding site (an old Hooded Crow nest), high in a conifer, in perfect habitat, where a pair of Long-eared Owls have been displaying and holding territory all spring, only for the birds to eventually fall silent and cease their breeding attempt, a pattern repeated at many sites in Duhallow and all over the country (Photo: M.O'Clery).
The cause for the widespread failures are largely unknown, though it may be that the unusually cold spring was a major factor.