I had a good day at the Scottish Owl Centre today. After yesterday’s ‘dreich’ weather today we had sunshine after the rain. Work always goes better with a bit of sunshine doesn’t it? I saw a daffodil in flower today too.
My morning check on the owls found that all was well, and some of them had taken early morning baths. Our female Spectacled Owl looked particularly funny, I wish I’d taken a picture, as her feathers were all stuck up on her head. She is still a young bird, born last year, and still has some of her ‘baby fluff’ white juvenile feathers around her head. These feathers were spikey from being wet which made her look like a child’s drawing of a snowflake
The Great Horned Owl male took the morning feed up to the female a few minutes after I gave it to them once again. This is the third day running and makes it more than likely that they have an owlet they are feeding up in the nest.
The sunshine put more of the owls in mind of the breeding season again, and I saw mating (or attempted mating) from the Northern Hawk Owls early afternoon. By the end of the day I saw the male was inside the nestbox picking at the nesting material I’d put in. He started calling to the female from inside the box then poked his head out of the hole, still calling. He was clearly saying ‘come back to my place’ and she was replying with her own calls. I expect her to be nesting within the week I’d say.
These were not the only ones thinking of breeding either. The female Ural Owl spent most of the day sat in the nest too. Although she came off later in the afternoon she is obviously thinking about it to be spending time sat up there. I also saw that our female Tropical Screech Owl was inside the nestbox today. In fact she was sat inside and the male was sat looking out of the nest hole! I had to check that there was nesting material in that box and saw that there were no eggs as yet. If a bird goes ‘missing’ I obviously want to know if it is alright, but if it is nesting and sitting on eggs I will not interfere again and will let her incubate. I’ll have to keep an eye on these little Screech Owls but I think they will be on the list of breeding birds before too long. Oh, and the Milky Eagle Owl is still sitting tight up in her nest too. I expect she has laid a second egg in the last 24 hours or so, so now it’s a long 39 day wait to see what happens.
All this was great news. I had to continue with my work on the Rainforest Realm today, finishing off wheelbarrowing bark chippings into the Tawny Frogmouth and Southern Boobook aviaries. I planted two eucalyptus trees in the Boobook pen too. The ground is full of large stones in the Walled Garden that the Owl Centre is being built in, and this has caused a lot of problems during the building. I got a taste of this myself as I tried to dig holes for these trees. I had to use a heavy iron bar to break up the ground enough to use a spade. By the end of the day I’m now aching and exhausted from the effort, but it was worth it. The whole area looks – and smells – fantastic. I’m really looking forward to getting the birds in here in the next few days.
Another feature of the new Scottish Owl Centre is a small bird hide tucked away in one of the corners of the centre. Once sat in there you can look out through windows into a corner of the walled garden where bird feeders hang, full of peanuts and seed for the wild birds. Being a new feature it is a bit bare at the moment, but we plan to plant bushes and other plants to provide cover and food for the birds too. I started this off today by planting a Honeysuckle that had been donated to us. Hopefully this will grow up the wall and its wonderful scented flowers will attract insects – and be pleasant to smell from inside the hide too.
Okay I’ll sign off and leave you with a random owl photo. This one was taken today and is of my personal favourite owl species – the Tengmalm’s (Boreal) Owl. Til tomorrow then, gnite