Tuesday 8th April 2014
As I was writing down the date of this blog, I suddenly realized it is exactly 18 years today, since I was first employed by the World Owl Trust. I was still a young man then! Where has all the time gone!
Anyway, this is, (for me), the 19th breeding season I have been involved with at the Owl Centre at Muncaster. Every year you learn something new. Having said that, you usually only get one chance every year to breed these fascinating birds. Well, I say ‘usually’, but not ‘always’. I wasn’t particularly surprised when the Burrowing Owls laid a clutch of eggs last autumn and hatched them. They have done this on several occasions. Likewise, I wouldn’t be surprised to see courtship behaviour displayed by the Indian Eagle Owls in late October or early November. They too have bred at this time of year. If I’ve learned anything over the years, its expect the unexpected. The next bit of news is a classic example. We have had a handsome male Tawny Owl called ‘Toby’ as part of the ‘Meet the Birds’ team since 1999. He came to us via the wild. It had been mistakenly believed he had been abandoned by his parents, and picked up and reared by human foster parents. By the time he came to us he was imprinted and socialized with humans. This meant he was no longer able to interact with Tawny Owls, and had to remain at WOT, where he has been ever since. Part of his ‘spiel’ was for me to tell audiences that;” whilst it was at first thought that only females went; ‘toowit’, and only males went ‘tewoo’, Toby here, does a very fine ‘toowit’, but having said that, Toby doesn’t read books”. Anyway, I now have to announce that ‘Toby’ has laid ‘his’ first egg!! It would turn out that ‘Toby is in fact a ‘Tabatha’. It only took 15 years to find that out! I will have to revise my words at ‘Meet the Birds’. Having said that, even though Toby has ‘revealed’ herself to be female, she still does a very fine ‘tewoo’.
See you next week
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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.