The owl files – Really bad news!!!!

18 December 2020 Part 2

Really bad news!!!!

I’ve just been called downstairs by someone who had just found the male lying dead next to one of the pot plants next to the stairs at the front of the building – again, no signs of injury, no obvious signs of secondary rodenticide poisoning, or of Trichomoniasis. When I opened the bill to check tissue colour and for signs of Trichomoniasis, there were already hundreds of tiny fly maggots (about half a millimeter long) in the mouth.

At around 10:00 this morning, there was a lot of excited chattering from the willow tree in front of the Centre and I thought that one or both the chicks had flown across from the roof. I couldn’t see anything however, and when I checked, both chicks were still where they had been earlier. I’m not sure how quickly carrion fly maggots develop – but possibly the birds were agitated because the male had just flown down to where we found the body.

So what now? While the chicks are already doing some hunting for themselves, they still depend on the parents for a large part of the food they need. I’ve however previously had a single parent (the male after his mate had died of Trichomoniasis) successfully raise two chicks, and if the female is still OK she should be able to look after the chicks for the next two-and-a-half months or so – by which time they would normally be independent. The next few days are going to be hell!

By Geoff Lockwood