A mostly rainy day today, but at least it was warmer than the last few. The owls were all fine, and the hosepipes were all working, so today’s volunteer and I got to work cleaning the aviaries. These daily duties still need to be done and we had a day to catch up on.
The weather affected our visitor numbers naturally, but we did have some intrepid people come to see the owls. It was nice to see some people back for their second visit with their children – our first repeat visitors and we’ve been open for less than a week! Our flying displays went well and the audiences seemed to really enjoy seeing the birds fly so close. I made a couple of changes to the line up for the birds I flew, as Lofty the Barn Owl was over his flying weight. Instead Tiger the Brown Wood Owl took his place for the morning show. She is getting a little more confident flying in the arena with each show and looks great. In the afternoon show Lofty’s stand in was our other Barn Owl Dylan. It was a bit of an experiment to fly him in front of an audience as he isn’t always quite sure where he is landing since he began to lose his sight. He is such a good natured owl though and so willing to fly it would be a shame to pass him up just because of this. By keeping him flying in the centre of the arena he can learn his way around, memorise the layout, and learn how far he needs to fly to reach the next perch safely. Today he did really well. I kept him to one end of the arena, where there was most light too, and he not only figured out what I was wanting him to do but picked himself when he wanted to fly to the next perch. Three or four times he flew off and made it to the perch, turning round and flying back to my glove when I waved a piece of food for him. He seemed really pleased to do his bit and the audience loved to see him fly. From today’s performance I think he can do more shows for as long as he wants to do them.
Sarabi the Milky Eagle Owl flew in two shows again, but in the morning show she flew over TWO pushchairs! If you’ve been following her progress in my blog you’ll know that this huge owl has an irrational fear of things on wheels, especially pushchairs (no idea why). Before joining us at the Scottish Owl Centre she would freak out whenever she saw one. With a little encouragement, and food, she has gradually faced her fear and gotten a bit less terrified and a bit more courage whenever they are around. Today she stared at the buggy’s from a high perch in the arena but after a few minutes she flew to me, then four or five more times up and down the length of the arena. She was very brave! She’s come on so well and is a fantastic member of the team.
In other news from the collection, I’m sad to report that our Milky Eagle Owls are no longer nesting. We found broken eggshell in the aviary and the female sitting up on top of the nest ledge. I waited until the end of the day to see whether she returned to the nest, but as she didn’t I climbed a ladder to investigate. The nest was empty, meaning there was only the one egg and that was broken. While it is a little disappointing it isn’t all that surprising to any of us here. The female laid the egg just eleven days after the pair arrived at the Scottish Owl Centre, but nobody heard any courtship singing from the pair. We hear Sarabi, the imprinted Milky Eagle Owl from all over the site when she sings, so an extra two voices to the choir would have been heard in the next town! What this does show us though is that the female Milky Eagle Owl is a fit and healthy bird, in good condition, adjusted and settled into her new home. It also shows that the male will feed her on the nest should they actually breed at some later date. Sometimes it can take years to learn these basic facts about a new pair of birds, so we are still ahead of the game so to speak. There is still time this year for her to (literally) recycle and lay eggs again, hopefully in another month or so when warmer temperatures would help them get through the incubation period.
In this line of work these things happen regularly, and you have to expect ups and downs. From this ‘down’ today there was also ‘ups’; our Long-eared Owl is still sitting in her nestbox, lying pretty low on her front, so there is a good chance that by the end of tomorrow she will be classed as breeding. In the Rainforest Realm today, the female Brown Wood Owl was seen sitting in her nestbox too. Another one to keep an eye on and breeding in this exhibit would be a real bonus.
Right so that’s another blog done and time for me to sign off. As always, ‘til tomorrow, gnite.