Saturday May 8th 2010
A lot of the owlets born this season are coming out of the woodwork this week. Tropical screech owlets, both in the Main Display and the Breeding Ground are out of their nestboxes; the Brown Wood Owlet in the Breeding Ground is out, as well as the White-faced Owlet down there. We have Long Eared Owlets in the Laybourne, which at present are very photogenic, and are a source of delight to the many visitors who have come equipped with their sophisticated cameras.
We have seen owlet activity in with the Great Grey Owls in the Main Display. These birds can be seen on the webcam at the bottom of the homepage on our website. It will be worth keeping an eye on these in the next few weeks. There’s quite a bit of owlet noise to be heard in with the Brown Wood Owls up in the Main Display, so the owlet(s) should be out of the box in the next few weeks.
Our female Boobook Owl in the Main Display is increasingly aggressive. I am having difficulty even reaching in to clean their feed tray at present. I will be very surprised if they haven’t successfully bred this year. On a slightly different subject, the owlet of ‘Bert’ and ‘Betty’, our two perennial blog favourites the Mackinder’s Eagle Owls, has only one eye! Maybe Betty caught her owlet’s eye with one of her talons, but that is pure speculation. The owlet appears to be coping very well with only one eye. We have had a few owls here at the centre who have been successful breeders and have had the same affliction, so we are not overly worried.
A new ‘guest’ came to stay with us last weekend in the form of a Common Buzzard which has been through the wars. It was in very poor condition, i.e. very thin, and had very significant head trauma. It looked as though it had been scalped! The keepers thought it looked a little like a vulture. I personally thought it looked a bit like ‘Riffraff’ from the Rocky Horror Show. Anyway, the Buzzard went to the vet, and he said that the tissue on the top of it’s head was granulating quite nicely, (that’s scabbing up to you and me), and he prescribed a precautionary course of antibiotics. The Bird does appear to be showing signs of improvement, and due to it’s good appetite it is getting stronger. My guess is that the bird may, due to a series of misfortunes in the wild have been in a weakened state, and been attacked by crows, causing the wounds to it’s head. Present indications are that this individual should make a full recovery, but will probably never be an ‘oil painting’, as it may never grow it’s feathers back on top of it’s head.
An interesting thing happened this morning; I finally heard the Boobooks calling! In all my time here, I had never heard them. There’s always been a degree of speculation about their call, as the name ‘Boobook’ is supposed to be derived from their call. For the same reason, in New Zealand and Australia it is known as the ‘Morepork’. I always wondered which name was most like the owl’s call. The answer is; both. The syllables are the same, but the ‘vowel’ part is indistinct, and could be interpreted either way.
I will leave you with a photo of this year’s Northern Hawk Owlets, as well as ‘Riffraff’ the Buzzard and a ‘visitor’ to our water feature in the Owl Garden.
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