19 December 2020
Yesterday evening, the female and the two surviving chicks were all on the lower roof – but sitting apart from each other, and as dusk fell they all flew off in the direction of the Sensory Trail. This morning the two chicks were back on the roof and were again sitting apart from each other (? social distancing). They seemed to be alert and behaving ‘normally’ but worryingly, whatever killed the other two owls seems to work incredibly quickly – with the owl looking fine one minute . . . and falling over dead the next.
I’ve seen something similar with a Red-eyed Dove suffering from a Paramyxovirus (Newcastle’s Disease). It was walking around feeding, and then suddenly fell over, twitched a few times . . . and died.
I’ve taken the two dead owls to the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital so that they can try and determine the cause of death – thank you Nicci Wright. Once we know what we are facing, we can hopefully ensure that the remaining owls survive – supporting them with assist-feeding if necessary. In the meantime, I’m keeping a close watch on them . . . and holding thumbs!!!
By Geoff Lockwood