It was another busy day at the Scottish Owl Centre today. There are still a hundred and one things to get done by opening day on Saturday.
I spent my morning putting up branch perches in the two empty aviaries in ‘African Avenue’, after a quick clean round the aviaries. These aviaries may be empty at the moment but we’re hoping to have occupants in them soon. Hopefully I’ll be able to say more in the next week or two.
Further along ‘African Avenue’ are our pair of Spotted Eagle Owls. Yesterday afternoon the female was spotted, so to speak, sitting on the ground. She seemed happy enough but it did make me wonder. Was she sunbathing (oh, owls love sunbathing by the way, more than humans even!) or was she thinking about nesting? Eagle Owls and many other species will often nest on the ground, but our aviary is a bit sparse and open at the moment. I had an idea for an experiment. I took out the nest box from the Indian Eagle Owl aviary (the male in that pen is only a year old so too young to breed this year anyway) and I moved the box into the Spotted Eagle Owl pen, placed on the ground at the back. When I went along to check on them this morning I found that there was a ‘nest scrape’ dug in the wood chipping at the bottom of the box. By the afternoon today she was sitting inside then came out at feeding time. So she is thinking of nesting! Well it would be fantastic if they were to breed but she is getting on a bit, around 19 years old – the oldest bird in our collection! We’ll keep watching and hoping.
The rest of my day was taken up with dozens of little jobs; painting in some aviaries, planting a tree, watering saplings, tidying up, feeding, and of course ‘owl school’.
Training the display team is a daily thing now, and they are gradually getting in the right frame of mind to do the demonstrations – just like me! Lofty had a mood swing again and today was almost angelic compared to yesterday. Sarabi was at a better weight and a bit more willing but needs to lose around another 30 grams. Bruce and Hosking are almost at their ideal weights and flew their routines really quick. Kenya the little White Faced Owl was hesitant but flew well eventually. She is at the right weight but still takes her time to move, so it is likely she still needs time to get used to the new arena and sound system.
I flew Prince the Ashy Faced Owl today. It was the first time in a good while as his weight has been really high. Today though he was lighter. At around 370 grams he is still very heavy for a relative of the Barn Owl family but he flew fairly well for me in the arena. I was really pleased as he has been a horrible little monster lately! It just goes to show how crucial it is to get their weights right. With some, like Lofty, even as little as 5 grams either way can completely change their mood. Prince got small pieces of food as a reward for flying but no main meal today. I want his weight lower and his behaviour more dependable before he can be added to the display ‘A Team’. (Yes, I love it when a plan comes together too!)
And on that note I’m going to sign off. ‘Til next time owl fans! Gnite.