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How owls cope in a heatwave
As temperatures across the UK soar to record highs, heating up the countryside in the day and bringing dramatic thunderstorms at night, the owls in my garden are developing strategies to cope. So far the tawny owls are cooling off in my garden ponds, and their chicks have even adopted my daughters’ paddling pool to bathe in, but the barn owls are more unsettled – especially by the thunder.
The family of tawny owls living in my garden consists of two adult birds and three chicks. The parent birds have lived here for many years. Last year, during a similar heatwave, these owls turned my garden ponds into ‘hoot tubs’. This year their chicks include two foster owlets Click here to read more about their foster story and these young birds of prey seem to have made themselves quite at home in this owl spa. These youngsters have even added my children’s paddling pool to their collection of bathing pools!
Owl chicks prefer the paddling pool
My children left their paddling pool out during the rain that preceded this summer heatwave and it filled with a shallow pool of rainwater – the perfect amount of water for an owl chick! Owls often bathe in pools and it is important that these are not too deep so they can get out. This plastic pool is very popular with the owl chicks. They tend to use it late at night. Watch the following click to see one splashing about with obvious enjoyment!
But although the chicks prefer the paddling pool, my cameras also picked up the following footage early one morning of one young owlet testing out the ‘adult owl pond’. Watch as it completely submerges itself, even washing itself under the armpits in true ‘scrubadub’ action.
If you have a pond, make sure owls can get out
Sadly tawny owls often try to bathe ponds, and in the countryside they tend to use cattle troughs and risk drowning if they cannot get out. My ponds are shallow and have plenty of rocks that the owls can hop onto to use as steps to get out. This advice from The Barn Owl Trust is invaluable. Designed to help prevent barn owls from getting trapped in water troughs, it is applicable to tawnys too. Click here to read it.
How different owl species are coping with the thunder
All this bathing seems to have turned the tawny owl chicks in my garden into cool creatures. As thunderstorms ripped across UK skies, one tawny chick sat out in the rain and watched the drama from its perch. Watch the clip below to see how it barely ruffles a feather as lightning sets the sky ablaze and thunder roars all around it.
This owl is solid as a rock, it wasn’t in the least bit scared, considering this must be the first time it has heard thunder.
But the barn owls are terrified
Meanwhile my barn owl nest camera filmed this poor barn owl chick shrink back in fear at its first sound of thunder. Watch the clip below to see how this chick is spooked by the sound of the rain clattering on to the roof of its nest box, and then terrified, when it hears thunder. This chick’s reaction is so different to the tawny owls stoic response.
The owls in my garden first adopted my garden ponds as an ‘owl spa’ during a similar heatwave last summer. Interestingly my wildlife cameras picked up both barn owls and tawny owls using the pools. Unusually, these owls were swimming and bathing during the day, which is very rare for an owl. Click on the link below to watch them swim and read about how they first discovered the ‘hoot tub’ last summer:
Painting the owls in my garden
I hope you have enjoyed the story of the owls in my ‘hoot tub’. Take a look here at how photographs and information I get from watching tawny owls on my wildlife cameras inform my paintings.
Visit my gallery to see these owls live on camera
I share my live footage of the wildlife in my garden with visitors to my art gallery in Thixendale. Visitors can watch action as it happens and see how the action from inside nest cameras and from cameras hidden throughout my Yorkshire garden informs my artwork.
Click here for the latest from my:
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