Saturday January 9th 2010
Happy New Year!
The weather continues to be ‘interesting’; snow has now been substituted with freezing rain, causing conditions underfoot to be ‘highly entertaining’. The hoses round the centre are frozen solid. Which means that proper cleans can’t take place until they thaw out.
The owls, (or some of them at least), are reading the situation completely differently. Not only are the ‘Indian Eagle Owls’ breeding, but our ‘White-faced Owls’ in the ‘Breeding Ground’ are showing some signs as well. The female has been sat in the nestbox since the 27th of December. Being from the savannas of tropical Africa, one might think she is just trying to stay warm, but somehow I don't think so.
We have had one ‘slight casualty’ in that a ‘Short-eared Owl’ from our multi-species exhibit; ‘the Laybourne’, has been admitted to the hospital. It appears a little under the weather, probably because of the prolonged cold snap. All our Short-eared Owls are ‘ex-wild’ injuries, and all came as mature adults. So we have no idea how old they are. This particular individual has been with us for 10 years, so is no spring chicken.
David informed me that we are to receive three ‘Eurasian Scops Owls from Twycross Zoo. They will be un-sexed individuals, and are part of David’s effort to boost the breeding success of certain species in captivity in the U.K.
The Eurasian Scops Owl isn’t particularly hardy in this country. In the wild they have a distribution as far north as the Baltic states, but in winter they migrate south to the Mediterranean. It may be that they are not suited to our ‘wet raw cold’. While it can get quite cool round the Med, conditions there are in general a lot drier.
Here at the centre we lock our Eurasian Scops Owls in their heated indoor enclosure for the winter months. This keeps them safe from the worst of our weather, as they might otherwise sit out in the rain, and die of hypothermia. They are not the ‘sharpest knives in the drawer’.
Sparky is still in the hospital as he isn't gaining any weight. He needs ‘a little extra padding’ to help keep him warm. It’s a peculiar case with Sparky as it appears that he is in fact ‘missing’ human company, as he only seems to eat when he is with a keeper. He actively tries to land on your arm, and once there, is quite content to stay, while you clean the hospital. We took him into the office for a few hours the other day, and he visibly relaxed and promptly ate the mouse he was offered. He is an obvious social imprint, and there remains a lot to be learned about how this affects individual birds. Nothing is cut and dried.
If anybody has tried to contact me by E-mail and has not gotten a reply, could you please ring our office on 01229-717393, as it appears that we have a few ‘glitches’ in our system, which we would like to sort out. A quick phone call would help to establish the extent of the problem.
To E-mail me:
|World Owl Trust
Registered Charity Number: 1107529
Limited Company Number: 5296745
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.