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Rehabilitating Eric, A Baby Tawny Owl
Rehabilitating Eric| Finding a Foster Family
This is the story of Eric, a baby tawny owl soon to be released into the wild. I plan to place Eric with a wild owl foster family in my garden. This method of rehabilitation is very successful since tawny owls are unable to tell the difference between their own chicks and an owlet placed among them. Owls fostered in the wild have a better chance of surviving.
Rehabilitating Eric | Week Three
Eric Gets a Friend, Named Ernie
Eric is now ready to be introduced to his new foster family, the wild owls in the valley below my garden. But bad weather is forecast this weekend, so I’ve decided to keep him a little longer.
Which is just as well because now a new tawny owlet has come in for rehabilitation. This one comes from Ryedale Rehabilitation and it makes sense to put him in with Eric. Naturally, I’ve named this owlet Ernie.
I’ve put both owlets into an outdoor aviary for the weekend to get them used to being outside until it’s time to take them into the valley for my wild owls to take them in as surrogate chicks. If it gets too cold I’ll bring them back in but all being well they will both be ready to be released into the wild with the parent owls next week.
Watch the following clip to see Eric and Ernie as they are introduced to one another.
Rehabilitating Eric | Week Two
Withdrawing Human Contact
Eric is my latest charge. He arrived last week from a wildlife orphanage where he had been in intensive care after being found in very poor condition, weighing just 100gs. He is now healthy and almost ready to be introduced to his new foster family.
First I need to break his trust of humans. To do this I am slowly withdrawing contact. At the orphanage, Eric was accustomed to being fed by hand, but here I throw his food into his box and walk away. This didn’t work at first and Eric refused to feed himself. He cheeped and cheeped until I gave in and fed him beakfuls of chopped up food, allowing him to take the food from a pair of tweezers rather than my fingers, but now he is getting the hang of things. Click on the link below to watch Eric take a luxurious stretch in his box.
Rehabilitating Eric | Week One
Eric still has to grow his adult feathers. He is roughly the age of what is known as the ‘branchling’ stage tawny owlets go through when they leave the nest to explore the tree branches nearby. During this period, their parents continue to feed them from their branches, but the owlets are still a long way from being able to fly and feed themselves.
My plan is to place Eric into a nest box close to the tree where the tawny owls in my garden are already feeding their own ‘branchling’ owlets. The idea is that the adult owls will hear Eric calling for food and be unable to distinguish the sound from the noises their own chicks make and so instinctively feed him.
The owls in my garden are the inspiration for my paintings. Take a look here at my collection of owl artwork featuring birds such as Eric:
Read about other owls I have fostered here:
How it all began: My story of persuading tawny owls to adopt:
Last year the tawny owls in my garden adopted readily:
I’ve also had success persuading barn owls to foster owlets:
Author: Robert E Fuller