So much has been achieved since I started on my new adventure in the summer, yet there is still loads to do. The owls need there daily care, of course, as does Blue and the chickens; the parking area and shed renovation are getting there, just not quite done yet; Victor and BB need better aviaries before the winter really sets in and the shed needs moving to a more level site…busy days!
Daily routines with Peanut and Whisper already feels like this is what I have always done. Each morning starts with a quick check out of my bedroom window where I can see both aviaries – usually Peanut is on his top perch looking like a puffball.
If I call out he will answer with his little chirrup that sounds so much like he is saying ‘Alright’ – he is proper Cornish!
He is slowly developing his grown up call, a quick double ‘hoot hoot’ which we have only heard a couple of times so far. I even played him a recording thinking that may encourage him to hoot…instead he looked confused and continued with his usual chirrup.
Whisper is often still awake in the morning, though not always. I never knew that I would be able to tell if a Barn Owl is tired just by looking at one, but Whisper actually squints if she is up too early or stayed up too late. You would think that she would go into her box, but no, she is often sitting on a perch on one foot squinting at the morning light! If anyone goes near the aviary she then dashes into her box to hide – I wonder if she is thinking ‘No, I do not want to come out and play, it is bedtime’. Just like a teenager – she hates mornings!
I managed to record her sleeping a while ago – we had been to the farm for a few hours and she was obviously exhausted by this. Here she is – Sleeping Whisper – you can see her gently moving with her breath as she sleeps. Beautiful!
So, back to the routine. Once I am up a quick visual check of owls and aviaries shows me if there is anything that needs attention. The water is changed and the casts collected. It’s important for me to note if each bird has cast and if the cast looks ‘normal’. Depending on the diet the casts will differ in colour – day old chicks are quite pale where as rats and pheasant certainly makes my four owls’ casts much darker. Any unusual changes may indicate the bird is unwell so this is an important check to make.
If all is well, and after a cup of coffee, I spend time working with Peanut in his aviary training him, at the moment getting him to go into his burrows on command with a reward of food. He is learning well and is very quick to fly for a treat – a bit of beef or cut up chick are his favourites. When the training is done, basically when Peanut has had enough to eat, I stay for a few more minutes as this is when he is very sociable and at his cutest – Cute Burrowing Owl says ‘Which way is up?’
Mid afternoon I usually head to the field to see Victor and BB. I am working on building their confidences with being handled, or manned to use the correct term. They were both hand reared but had not been handled much at all before they came to me this year. As they are now both about 5 years old this may take a lot of time and patience on my part. However as Eurasian Eagle Owls can live up to 60 years I figure it is worth it.
So now I spend time simply being near them in their aviaries and talking to them. They are both free lofted – not tethered – so it is good that they usually remain sitting calmly when I am with them. If I do catch them to take them out they still tend to flap but soon settle once on my glove. BB struggles to stand on the glove, showing that he really hadn’t been handled much at all, and so he needs more practice but as he is such a large bird he gets quite heavy to hold for any length of time!!
My aim is to one day be able to fly them in the field – just got to get them to feed from the glove first, which they don’t at all at the moment…..like I say, I will keep trying.
So then after a few hours hanging out with my boys I head back home in time to feed the youngsters. My days are getting much shorter now it gets dark by 5pm! My lovely husband has put outside lights for me as it was getting tricky undoing the padlocks with one hand while holding a torch with the other.
I like to fly Whisper every evening, weather depending, and she looks gorgeous flying at dusk. If it’s wet I bring her in to the house, which is much nicer for both of us!
A pretty good way to spend a day, I think 🙂