The owl files – I’m hungry

13 January 2021

I’m hungry

Yesterday afternoon I went on a bird atlassing walk and, on returning to the Centre just before 17:00, found the female on the corner of the flat roof under the overhang. Checking the spot in the Willow tree that the chick has been using, I was disturbed to see a whole lot of owl feathers on the branch – and no sign of the chick! Oh no!!! .  .  . had it had a run-in with one of the Black Sparrowhawks?

Something made me look round  .  .  . and there was the chick – perched on one of the path lights, and obviously already looking for food! I snapped a few shots on my phone camera, and headed upstairs to throw the two day-old chicks that I had defrosted out onto the roof.

The female totally ignored them, and it was nearly 40 minutes later before she walked up and picked up a chick – returning to the corner to swallow it. Thirty minutes later she had moved to the higher roof and was calling repeatedly. I could hear the owl chick begging, but the female made no effort to feed the remaining day-old chick to it. It seems that she is no longer feeding the youngster.

The owl chick then landed on the edge of the roof – saw the food, and pounced. It then took the food into the shelter of the overhanging vegetation where it systematically tore it apart and swallowed it piece by piece.

By Geoff Lockwood