Chicklets & Twiglets...

Over the years we have experienced many unusual instances of ‘raptor rescue’ but just recently saw a first, when we received a nest with three baby tawny owls still in it! 


These three young Tawny owlets arrived complete with nest...

Apparently a local couple had decided to cut down a tree, totally unaware that there was a nest in it.  Fortunately, they had the presence of mind to contact the 'Suffolk Wildlife Rescue' group.  A member of their team, Alex, immediately collected the birds and brought them straight over to us. 



... seen here on Maz’s desk before moving (sans chicks!) to our museum

Conservation Officer Dean has since taken them under his wing, so to speak, by feeding them every four hours and taking them home to keep an eye on them overnight.  They are now thriving and, in a mere two weeks, have already doubled in size!  It's not always easy to tell at this stage, but the falconers think we have two girls and one boy.  The reason for this is that two of them are noticeably bigger than the other one  and where raptors are concerned the females are usually larger than the males.   

It won't be long before the tawnies are left in an aviary, so that they do not become imprinted on humans - this happens with hand rearing, where a raptor sees humans as its source of food. It will also give them chance to learn to fly.

All being well, in two months time when they are three months old, the tawnies will be released to resume their lives in their natural habitat.  Meanwhile the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) have now ringed them, which helps to provide a record of the number of birds that have been hacked back to the wild. 

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So far, it has been a wonderful spring for baby events here at the Sanctuary, too.  Our two Eagle Owl chicks have absolutely blossomed and now look like enormous fluffy balls as opposed to small fluffy blobs.  Much as we would like to keep all of our babies at Stonham, it's a logistical impossibility and so many will move on to other homes, where we know they will be extremely well cared for.  One of the Eagle Owl chicks however, whom the falconers have now named 'Amber', will be staying with us.  At the moment she has pride of place in the office, where she snuggles under Maz's desk keeping a close eye on proceedings. 
 
Our baby star of the week has to be our Asian Brown Wood Owl, who has alternately slept and squeaked his way through three days of school visits.  He has been totally unfazed by the multitude of captivated faces peering down at him, accompanied by the usual chorus of admiring 'ooohs' and 'aaahs' and has stretched his wings, fluffed his feathers and staggered appealingly as he finds his feet; like a true pro! 
 
Fascinating Raptor Facts

One of the raptors I have had the fortune to spend a fair amount of time with, is Bali the Asian Brown Wood Owl.  He is definitely a seasoned expert when it comes to school visits, exhibitions and flying displays and knows how to utilise his stunning looks to the best advantage. 



In pensive mood - my mate Bali, the Malaysian Wood Owl

In his natural habitat, Bali would come from the rainforest regions of Malaysia, spending much of his time high up in the leafy canopy.  His amazing colouring is due largely to the need for camouflage.  Barring on his wings looks exactly like the branches of the trees he sits on, which means he blends in rather nicely, hence avoiding the notice of any would-be predators.  Babies are fully grown at about three to four months, so this camouflage is particularly handy when you're only a very young Wood Owl with very little possibility of escape. 

A curious feature of the Malaysian Wood Owl is that  from time to time it will choose to eat fish.  Owls are dependent on keeping their feathers well oiled for cleanliness and protection from rain, so fishing is an unusual pastime for this species to undertake.  Most children tend to think that all owls say tu-whit or tu-whoo, but Bali is an excellent example of the fact that they don't - not only does he emit an ear piercing shriek, he also does it with frequent monotony much to the astonishment of onlookers! 
 

To learn more about Bali and all the other raptors, why not come and see us at the Sanctuary? We look forward to seeing you!