Barn Owls make for some of my favourite viewing on BBC Springwatch – due back on TV in late May. I hope they manage to get some exciting Barn Owl footage this year. They did not do so well in 2008, but these beautiful owls caught the attention of many (blissfully ignorant?) nature lovers when BBC Springwatch cameras captured owl cannibalism in 2007.
Owlets eating one another was not what most viewers expected of these cute chicks – it was something of a revelation. Siblicide in this case ensured survival in hard times – rain was stopping parent owls from hunting. But what if a chick ate a sibling regardless – when prey was plentiful? People often expect wild species to reflect their own human-centred morals, and it’s certainly common to hear narrators on TV explain observations by anthropomorphisation and a sense of emotional reasoning that they can relate to.
Those who saw the Springwatch example will probably have come to terms with this aspect of nature – even if it’s still a bit disconcerting. That goes to show how valuable this programme can be.
Springwatch has achieved a new wave of wildlife awareness in the UK – and its inspirational insights and storylines make the best type of TV. A new naturalist joins the team this year – Chris Packham will be on Springwatch 2009