Monday, July 14, 2014

Tawny Owl Chicks

The pair of tawny owls that feed in my garden every night have begun to bring their chicks to the bird table and this week I had all eight at once, balancing on the branch outside my living room.

I managed to capture five of them in this one shot. They are incredible to watch, they are such characters. It makes me smile to see the way they bob up and down.

This pair actually had four chicks of their own and are surrogate parents to four more after I was given four extra chicks by a rescue centre.

I put food out in my garden for tawny owls every night and each year they nest in a line of sycamore trees just below my house.

So when I was asked by the Ryedale Rehabilitation Centre to care for a clutch of four owls I knew that the tawny pair would cope because I supplement feed them each night.

It's been incredible watching them thrive. There was one hairy moment when the chicks fledged during a torrential downpour.

Their feathers stuck fast and they were unable to fly back up to the safety of the tree canopy.

I scooped them up and brought them inside to dry them off. I had to rescue them two more times that week!

Now of course they are almost ready to fend for themselves. It's been great watching the parent birds take them out on hunting trips, but by mid-August the adult pair will begin to shoo them away.

Tawny owls are devoted parents and look after their chicks for a long time, but by Autumn they turf them off their territory to fend for themselves. It can be a noisy time and with eight young owls I'm expecting it to get very loud.

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