On Friday (15 May), Zoe (the ranger in the north’s wife) told me she had save four young barn owlets from a container that had been moved up to the north and they found a destroyed nest inside. There were also three eggs that she attempted to incubate but does not have high hopes for. Right away I offered to take one to help her out since they are a lot of work. Yesterday morning, she sent down one owlet for me and one for Ellery (the warden of Karingani) to help raise and hopefully release one day. I have never raised birds before so I have been researching as much as I possibly can to help me keep this little thing alive. Of course, I have named her Hedwig – it is the best name for an owl! She seems to be about 10 days old or so. She is not the most beautiful thing, but I am already finding myself crazy about her.
Last night I attempted to butcher up a for her dinner. I realised I really need to work on my squirrel butchering techniques, I really did not do a great job of it. But I will have lots of time to practice over the next few weeks. Last night she ate ½ the meat I got off the squirrel and this morning she ate the rest of it.
I feel like such a worried mother, I woke up a few times last night and wanted to check that Hedwig was still alive and warm enough. She really is quite the talker. This morning she is sitting in my office with me and I swear has been screaming and chattering away nearly all morning. Ellery’s, which has been named Hootie by his kids, is a good bit bigger than Hedwig and already has its eyes open and is starting to get primary feathers in and is probably one to two weeks older than Hedwig. But Hootie is so quite compared to Hedwig. Maybe because Hootie has its eyes open and can see that s/he is not being fed versus Hedwig who really relies on sound and smell right now. Barn owls lay eggs over a period of time and so the chicks hatch at different times, this is called asynchronous hatching. Instead of like many other birds where hatchling compete for the most food and parental care, older barn owlets will help to take care of the younger ones in the nest. This helps ensure more chicks survive, although having up to eight very hungry mouths to feed each night must keep the mum and dad owls VERY busy. Just having one owlet take a lot of time and food.