Location, Location, Location

Things are looking very rosy here at the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary, with a pleasing number of success stories to relate.

Tawny Owl Update
You may recall our three Tawny Owl chicks, which came into the Sanctuary a few weeks ago. They have done really well and on Tuesday of this week, Andy and Dean decided they were ready to start the next stage of their journey back to their natural environment. They were taken to a local farm where they were placed in a hack box in a wooded area. The three chicks will remain in the hack box for seven days to give them the chance to acclimatize to their new surroundings. After the seven days they'll be released, but will continue to be fed at the hack box until they can look after themselves.

UPDATE - soon after we posted this blog, Dean released the
three Tawnies, as you can see from the flurry of feathers in this picture!

Finding Foster Parents

Late in July, Dean the Sanctuary's Conservation Officer and our colleague Roger Buxton took a young rescued Barn Owl out to Norfolk where they had been fortunate enough to locate an active nest box. In the box were three Barn Owl chicks of a similar age to our youngster. It's possible to ascertain a young Barn Owls' age by looking at the third primary feather from the front on the wing, which in this youngster was 130mm long, making him about 52 days old. The idea behind relocating this little chap is that a single Barn Owl chick will have a better chance of survival being foster-reared by a wild mum. She will teach him all the necessary hunting and survival techniques, which is a lot more constructive than being reared on his own by us and then being released.

No Rest For the Wicked
Not content with just pursuing his conservation work at the Sanctuary, Conservation Officer Dean has been carrying on the good works at home. Having had five Little Owls brought in to S.O.S, Dean then took them home and reared them in one of his own aviaries. When he thought the time was right they were put in a hack box in a conifer tree in Dean's garden, then fed for a week and eventually released - much to the annoyance of the local blackbirds, bluetits and robins who were apparently quite vocal in their disapproval.

And on the subject of Little Owls...
We have a new star in the making here at S.O.S called Mr Tumble. He is one of Lily the Little Owl's brood this year and is now two months old. He's fully grown, although he still has some of his downy baby feathers. At the moment he is enjoying a life of luxury, being totally doted on by Andrew, who is giving him a great deal of TLC and getting him thoroughly used to being handled. His mum, Lily was extremely good at performing in the flying displays and Andrew is confident that Mr Tumble will follow in her footsteps. Once he is totally comfortable with being handled, he will also be an engaging little chap for kids to be able to hold on the glove when they visit the Sanctuary.

Fascinating Raptor Facts
The Little Owl, as you might expect from its name, is a very small owl around 23 - 27.5 cm in length. It tends to nest in holes in trees or rocks and will generally lay 3-5 eggs. It's back is an attractive white-speckled brown and the front is white, dappled with brown markings. It has a large head, long legs and yellow eyes with white eyebrows that give it a rather startled expression. The Little Owl's Latin name is Athena Noctua, which comes from the fact that the Little Owl was often seen perched on the Goddess Athena's shoulder. Hence the saying 'wise old owl', which is something of a myth as I am reliably informed that owls have brains about the size of a peanut!