It’s All About BB – my Eurasian Eagle Owl

birds, Hoots, nature, Owls, photography

BB King – a very fine name for a very fine owl.

BB King

For I am BB King

BB came to be mine on the 14th of May last year, the day his namesake died.  He was looking for a new home as his keeper was retiring.  A local bird sanctuary had no room for him – but I did!  He did not have a name other than Owl….not good enough, I thought.  Now it has to be a fine name for such a magnificent creature so I started looking [or Googling to be precise] names of Gods and Kings.  The Eurasian Eagle Owls are one of the largest of all owls and have a wonderful soulful hoot.  Their Latin name is Bubo Bubo.

I struggled to find a name for him, then heard a news report on the radio announcing the passing of BB King – so it had to be.  BB = Bubo Bubo.  King of Soul = best hoot I have heard other than in the Disney movies!  Check out his hooting –

In Geneva earlier this year I spotted this guitar which was the real BB King’s, and it was signed by him!  I need to frame this photo and hang it in my BB’s aviary 🙂

BB King guitar

This Spring BB has certainly settled into his deluxe aviary and he is even trying to make a nest!  He is 5 years old [on April 19th] so is going to be looking for a mate – maybe I should put an ad in the local paper for him!

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As anyone on the dating scene knows it is important to look your best, and keeping an eye on his weight is part of BB’s beauty regime.

Eagle Owl weigh day

BB loves being outside in the field – enjoying the wind ruffle his feathers while he takes in the sights,

and in his aviary he sometimes looks so funny!

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We love you BB, you rock!!

Owl Selfies

birds, Hoots, nature, Owls, photography, Selfies

I seem to have gathered lots of photographs of my owls over the past 8 months – [WOW!!! I’ve had my owls for 8 months now!!] …… loads of Peanut…

Why is he so photogenic?!

Thought it was time I shared them with you – and a really close up video of BB hooting 🙂

Peanut  I love this photo taken by my niece, Zinzi…

Peanut with my smiley nephews and niece… and me in my hat…

…at Christmas and in the house..

Casper and Cam

Our son with Casper, a young Barn owl we reared…

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and Victor in portrait poise…

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and happily home again…

Now listen to BB King’s soulful double hooting – warming up for Spring!

 

Watching Owls

birds, nature, Owls, photography

“A wise old owl sat on an oak; The more he saw the less he spoke; The less he spoke the more he heard; Why aren’t we like that wise old bird?”

BB King

For I am BB King

Owls like to stare for ages – usually at something so far away it is impossible for me to see what ever it is they find so fascinating.

BB likes to spend quite a bit of time watching the sheep grazing, and a large oak tree on the edge of his field – looking for squirrels perhaps?..

Victor has a general good look around, blinking slowly, taking his time.

Peanut’s favourite spot is on his top rail where he can watch everything, snugly puffed up with one leg tucked away..

Good Morning Peanut

and Whisper just loves the camera – well, she is beautiful!!

Victor’s Day Out

birds, nature, Owls, photography

Some days it has been so wet and windy it is hard to get the owls out of their aviaries.   When it is really rough I leave them in peace and quiet; in the wild they would stay put in a sheltered spot and wait for the weather to pass so it’s quite natural for them – just like we like to stay where we are warm and dry, and watch the rain pour down.  On those days I will spend some time standing with each of them, having a chat and giving them their food.

Victor still hasn’t made a sound but the other three hoot, screech and chirrup joining in the conversation!   Victor contributes through expression, his eyelids are the best and he winks and blinks – maybe it’s a kind of owl morse code…I will decipher it one day.  He is getting more confident when he is taken out, and much more interested in looking around rather than staring at me with a rather shocked expression!

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Here we are sheltering in the ‘spare’ aviary during a heavy shower – spare as in it is supplying the spare parts needed for the new aviaries and will soon be taken down completely.  We removed the door and front panel just a few days ago for the new, better and stronger aviaries – fingers crossed finished this week – wow!!!

 

Victor really likes my shed.  The first time he went in to be weighed was the first time I had seen him take a real notice of his surroundings – he had a good look around, visibly relaxed and happily looked out of the window while I made a cup of tea.

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I think he must have been in a shed with his previous owners at some point, as he loves it in there every time now.  IMG_2939

 

My brother and his lovely girls bought me an Owl Advent calendar  – Victor loved it too!

 

It gets a bit chilly in the field while spending time with Victor, so I decided to go for a walk around and see who else was about at the farm.

We visited Pete – who was out, but Victor liked the look of the caravan.

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So then we went down to the yard to see if my brother was about, though forgot that is was nearly 3pm so he would be doing the school run picking up his girls.  Victor quite liked the old cartwheel by his back door and I couldn’t resist making the most of this photo opportunity.

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Soon Victor is going to be guest of honour, with Peanut, at the Lankelly Rugby Club junior’s Xmas party.  This will be Victor’s first public appearance since he came to live with me so it is very exciting.  I am making him new anklets and jesses [or furniture to use the correct term] especially for the occasion, so he will look very smart and I am sure he will impress everyone there, blinking quietly in his way.

Time to put Victor back and feed the owls.

 

 

Remember November – cos it flew by me!

birds, Owls

Wind, more wind and rain – that is what November has been in this part of Cornwall.  What with it getting dark at 4ish each afternoon and the stormy weather my days have been a mixture of inside working on the laptop trying to complete my falconry qualification, digging out my thermals and dodging the worst of the weather spending quality time with Victor and BB to build their confidences in being handled.

So I have been up to Exmouth and spent two days at the Hawkridge Bird of Prey Centre with the lovely Sharon and Richard.  The centre is closed for the winter [they still run courses and experience days] which meant that I could really get behind the scenes and learn loads.

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The birds are all kept wonderfully clean, and they soon got me on the cleaning rota!

 

 

 

 

IMG_2751What was really good was that Sharon also has a couple of Eurasian Eagle Owls.  The male is now 7 years old, called Echo and he is very behaved.

It was a privilege to fly him – and he likes to watch the sheep just about as much as BB does!

 

Spending quality time with Victor and BB is beginning to pay off.  This past week they are both much more relaxed when they are sitting on the glove.  They appear to be getting used to the daily weigh in and being out of their aviaries while we clean and generally sort stuff out.  I couldn’t see Victor in his aviary last week – but he was there…hiding I reckon….check out the front right bottom corner!  IMG_2571

The ground is getting very muddy, mainly due to Wellington boots rather than the birds.  Anyway, to make it nicer for them I have wheelbarrowed about 6 bags of pea gravel up the field to lay on membrane under their perches.  IMG_2762

Hardwork – and very warming!  Luckily the lovely neighbouring farmer took the remaining 8 bags up for me in his tractor.  The floors look so much better, and will be easier to clean too.  [Hawkridge’s good influence!]

 

So I am back up to Exmouth tomorrow for another couple of days absorbing as much information as I can.  Thermals are packed and I am really looking forward to it.

Oh, and this afternoon Victor is let me take this closeup!

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Owls by day

birds, cute, nature, Owls, photography

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.

Good Morning Peanut

Good Morning Peanut

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.

Hello!

Hello!

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!

Morning Whisper!

Morning Whisper!

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.

BB sitting on a glove!

BB sitting on a glove!

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!!

Tempting Victor with food

Tempting Victor with food

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!

Good evening Whisper

Good evening Whisper

Whisper evening flight

Whisper evening flight

A pretty good way to spend a day, I think 🙂

Playing indoors

Playing indoors