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Bird news from Vietnam, from Vietnam's resident and visiting birders.

8 January 2012

Grass Owl - 4th breeding site

Hi all,

The circumstances of the discovery of this fourth nest (5 chicks) of Grass Owl are very special.

Indeed, this nest has been founded by local people 2 weeks ago, and they showed me the place. It’s quite a mess there. The grass has been trampled flat in many places, a “visitor-made” path lead to the nest and the chicks are completely exposed to the elements – but they are well, that’s the most important.

Another surprise was the habitat. Not dozens of hectares of treeless grasslands like in the first three breeding sites, but just a 4-5 hectares mosaic of thickets, wooded patches and dry reedbeds - so a rather closed habitat -, with some gaps of grassland created by fire (dominated by a pioneer graminoid that enter an area soon after it has been burned). Those small patches of dense grass cover are gradually colonised by reeds.
The nest is located in dense grass tussocks (80 cm high), 20 meters from trees.

The nest as I founded it. The vegetation has been trampled down by the numerous visitors
and the chicks are completely exposed

The breeding site, wedged between tall reeds and thickets.
This area has been burned 2 years ago. Fires at the correct time of year,
in controlled situations, can be very beneficial for this species, especially here where the encroachment of woody vegetation seems to be very dynamic

This small patch of grasslands is grazing by horses. But the owner -who have discovered the owls - keep them away from the nest !
Horses grazing 40m from the nest. Total incompatibility with the presence
of an owl's nest. Fortunately, the owner is a good guy

Before leaving the place, I built a new “home” for the chicks which like - and need, because of the bad weather - to be enveloped by the vegetation.

So, four nests now: 1 destroyed (by fire), 2 more or less threatened (including this one), 1 away from human activities. Probably, the Grass Owl is not as rare as we think, but one thing is sure: its habitat is subject to high - and probably increasing - human pressure (fires during the breeding season, conversion of grasslands to cultivation, overgrazing...), at least along the Red river.



  1. this is so cute! it's good you built a new home for them! İ think i know kind of where this place is because i have been horse riding there...
    amazing owls!! thanks for sharing!!

  2. Yes, very cute creatures. Let`s hope no one around will have the bad idea to have owls as pets.
    Two weeks already they have been discovered, and still on their nest, still alive ! That`s pretty amazing, here, in Vietnam !
    I keep my fingers crossed...


  3. hello,

    thanks for all the interesting and up to date birding info for Hanoi,

    i will be in the hanoi area (Sa Pa, Cuc Phuong, Ba Vi, Tam Dao etc. from about 28th Jan - 14 Feb if anyone has any birding trips planned that I might join. Keep the info coming. regards Paul

    email is PJD67@hotmail.co.uk

  4. Hi everybody,
    My name is Ha and I am working for Birdlife. I have been reading this wonderful blog for some time. Now I would like to post photos from my recent trips to Nam Dinh and Ninh Binh. Could you please tell me if and how I can do this. My email is hoangthanhha66@gmail.com.

    1. Hi Ha !
      Of course you can send some posts here, it is a collective blog.
      We really need contributors to keep this space alive !
      Everyone is welcome !
      I will contact you soon by email
      Hen gap lai !


  5. Last news about this nest: success with 5 fledged chicks ! The youngest one left the nest the 15-16th January (its older brothers/sisters 3-4 days before).


  6. Oh, they are just so adorable!

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