Tuesday November 13th 2012
The end of the season has arrived. It’s always quite jarring. We finish off with frenetic activity what with the season ending with Halloween week; one of the busiest weeks of the year. We did ‘Spooky Owl Tours’. This time it was done by Steve Richardson and Me. I did all the talking. Steve and Sparky ably assisted and added ‘gravitas’. Feedback was generally quite good. The only problem we had was that as the tours were done ‘back to back’, people had to be punctual to be included on the tour. Some people inevitably missed out because they were late. The weather was quite challenging as well. It wasn’t too bad for me, as I was wearing a thick woollen overcoat and a ‘fairly’ weatherproof top hat, known as an ‘undertaker’. Steve however was only wearing a dark suit jacket and white shirt. At the end of each night he was definitely looking the worse for wear. There was one night, midway through the week when there was a slight lull, and there was a break in the tour schedule. I decided to ‘hide’ in the old laundry next to one of the scary dummies. There were one or two visitors who got more than they bargained for, who quite literally ‘jumped out of their skins’!
On the owl side of things, most of the flying birds are on their winter rations now. I managed to put a small video clip on facebook of Mortimer getting her ‘end of season rat banquet’ Very well deserved!
Earlier this year, I went on a day trip to one of our contacts who happens to be a successful private owl breeder. It was while walking round his collection that he pointed out what he considered to be an indicator of a certain species coming into breeding condition. In this case it concerned Northern Hawk Owls. He pointed out that the males will stuff food; chicks or bits thereof high up into the mesh of their aviaries. This was something I hadn’t seen at Muncaster, even though we have been very successful in breeding this species over the years; that is, until now! We now have a new male for our female, and he has just started doing this, at this time of year! I would say that it’s unlikely that this species will breed at this time of the year, but if I’ve learned anything about owls over the years, it’s ‘never say never’. A few years ago, we successfully bred Ferruginous Pygmy Owls in December during an Arctic Freeze! So who knows?
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.