Saturday February 6th 2010
The time has now arrived to get our flying birds ready for ‘Meet The Birds’, which commences on the 21st of March. We’ve just about finished everything we needed to get done in the off-season. We’ve finished the cleaning of nestsites, and we’ve just a few last perches to install around the ‘Main Display’. We should get this done next week, and also do a general tidy up around the centre, so the place looks less like a ‘work in progress’. We should also by then have finished the structural repair work to the Brown Fish Owl’s aviary.
On the livestock side of things, we have a few birds which appear to have started breeding. The African Spotted Eagle Owls seem to be in the process, the female has been sat tight in the nestbox for most of the week. Their nestbox is on camera, and can be viewed on our website. If you can see her online, I promise you, you are seeing just as much of her as we are. ‘Cugat’, our female Ethiopian Eagle Owl is also in her nest tray, and I will be very surprised if she doesn’t have at least one egg under her. There has been some activity in the Chaco Owls, and the female has been seen in the nestbox. At present, only one owl can be seen, suggesting the female is lower down in the nestbox, and possibly incubating an egg. It hasn’t all been plain sailing however, as the female Ashy-faced Owl from the ‘Main Display’ has had to go to the vet’s with a seriously swollen abdomen. This proved, after further investigation, to be oedema, that is, ‘fluid retention’, probably caused by having a massive egg inside her, which she obviously was having difficulty in passing. This was also causing breathing problems, as the fluid was in her air sacks as well. Air sacks are peculiar to birds in that they are additional to their more conventional lungs. The act of powered flight requires oxygenation over and above what conventional mammalian physiology can supply. Avian physiology solves this by having these additional air sacks, which, through the physical action of flying, act as ‘bellows’, to pump more oxygen into the system. At the vet’s, she was in very bad shape for a while, until she passed her egg. Since then she has improved rapidly, and all being well should be able to go back out with her mate in the coming week.
On a slightly different subject, some funds have become available to us to develop our duckpond into something altogether more natural and wildlife friendly, bearing in mind that the pond is in fact ‘man made’, and was intended to only be ornamental. This is an interesting development as we have one or two fascinating wildlife species remaining in the region, which have managed to stay put, in spite of Man’s best efforts to alter the environment. It will also be nice to do something, (literally), on our own doorstep. I will keep you informed as to the latest developments.
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The World Owl Trust is a member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) and the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA). The Trust relies on a dedicated membership, visitors, donations and legacies.