The owl files – Chapter 3: Failing experiment ?

20 December 2022

Failing experiment ?

When I got back from ‘our’ trout farm on Monday afternoon, there was a guy photographing something in the Willow Tree – the fledgeling was back. After unpacking and taking everything upstairs, I thawed some mice and headed downstairs to see if the young owlet needed a support feed. I waved a mouse around to attract the owl’s attention, and then tossed it onto the grass below the tree. A brief look, and then the owl quickly lost interest. Not hungry!

Checking with the watchman, I discovered that the chick had arrived back in the Willow on Friday. It had been seen regurgitating a pellet – so it seems to be doing OK for the moment at least.

I then went up to the roof to check on the new nestling – now 31 days old. There were no food remains in the nest, and it was noticeable that the chick’s development was way behind schedule. It is still very small (about 15% smaller than usual), and feather-development is also slower than usual. I left three dead mice in the nest – I’ve now supplied 31 mice to the chick, but it is obvious that the male is only erratically delivering food to the nest. My concern that the female’s weird behaviour would lead to be a major problem is proving to be well-founded.

The new chick – about 15% smaller than it should be at this age
The new chick – about 15% smaller than it should be at this age

By Geoff Lockwood