Tawny owlets out and about

adventurous owlets are coming out of the box

Tawny Owl chicks get out of the box

These pictures were kindly sent in by Christopher near Windsor, who was delighted to get Tawny Owls breeding in a nestbox I provided. This is the first Spring the boxes have been available and it’s great to know they got used so quickly.

Tawny Owl chicks are well known for their adventurous streak, and right now they are leaving nests to explore the big wide world.

They look very vulnerable and cute, but PLEASE don’t pick them up. This is what they do. Your idea of ‘rescue’ is probably not what the birds need.

Alright, if they are on the floor, in an area where dogs are exercised you probably want to put the owlet onto a tree branch, but be warned – Tawny Owl parents can be violently protective. And even the owlets have very sharp talons.

But consider the fact that this bird has evolved a wandering behaviour for a reason. Natural selection has rewarded something beneficial, despite some humans thinking it’s a terrible idea to be ‘out in the open’. Tawny Owl fledglings must learn to avoid danger, or die. As night falls they give their parents a call to encourage them to bring food. Probably something warm, furry and (formerly) shy.

One of the major differences from the Barn Owl is being able to get fed wherever you happen to sit. Whilst a Tawny Owl chick can expect food to arrive quite far away from the original nest hole, a baby Barn Owl won’t get fed unless it is in exactly the right place. Barn Owl chicks must stay at the cavity where they hatched, because the parent birds will only deliver prey there.

Jason Ball
Natureheads.com

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