Saturday 9th July 2011
This week has had some ‘interesting’ weather at Meet the Birds. We were subject to a deluge from the skies on two occasions. I didn’t mind, in spite of the weather and losing half the audience we managed to get new members each time. It’s funny how time zips past, as we are on the cusp of the high season, and at the end of August it will mostly be over.
On the owl side of things, we have just taken the first feather samples of this season. These are routinely taken for DNA analysis; they are sent to a diagnostics lab where they determine the gender of each individual sample. In this case we have sent off the samples from both broods of Boobook Owls. We lost the breeding female from the Main Display a few months ago, and would be good if the Breeding Ground pair had at least one female so we could pair her off with the, (now spare), breeding male. Early indications are that the breeding ground brood has a male and a female, so fingers crossed.
The end of June marks the start of high summer, and manifests itself amongst other ways by the increased amount of ‘livestock’ each individual owl carries. The ‘livestock’ I’m talking about are Flat Flies, or Louse Flies, Hippoboscids. These are the bird equivalents of fleas and lice on mammals. I’m happy to say they prefer bird hosts, although they are not above landing on the odd keeper that has the misfortune to get too close to a ‘well stocked’ owl. They have the habit of crawling down the back of your neck and into your clothes or hair, thereby causing the odd bit of semi panic among the keepers. On many an occasion I have gone home, only to find I have been carrying some livestock myself, for many hours. As we catch the birds up, we worm them and in the worse cases we spray them with anti mite spray which sorts them out for a while.
Till next week.
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