Feature articles on Tawny Owls


These pages will have a number of articles on Tawny Owls and related topics. Here's an "index" for those that've been completed or have enough content to put up.


1. No homes for tawnies. Tackles two related subjects: (a) Why are there so few cavity sites (holes) in mature trees for tawnies to nest in, and (b) Why do so many tawny chicks fall out of twig nests? Both questions have simple answers. (2 pages)


2. Looking after orphaned tawny chicks. How to look after and release a Tawny Owl chick. Some quite detailed stuff that'll help you decide whether you should, or can, go ahead with rearing the chick in the first place. (4 pages)


3. The first 100 days. A pictorial essay with photos showing how a Tawny Owl youngster grows into an adult. Based on pics of one of our orphaned owls taken at five-day intervals. (2 pages)


4. Imprinting. (Preliminary comments, more detailed article coming later.) Almost all the advice you'll find about hand-rearing orphaned owls sounds a dire warning about the danger of imprinting. Here we'll look at what imprinting is and whether it happens with a hand-reared tawny chick. Most tawny chicks found on the ground are 15-25 days old, and the evidence from my own experience and that of others is that at this stage imprinting on a human foster parent either does not happen or is so superficial that in itself it is not a cause for concern. (1 page)

5. Delayed incubation in three species of owl — Tawny Owl, Barred Owl and Great Horned Owl. The books say that owls do not attempt to synchronise hatching times by delaying the incubation of their first egg or eggs. This article presents some evidence that they do. (1 page)


Coming next: Should we use flashlights on owls? (Some preliminary guidelines). Owls are protected in many ways, but anyone can go out any time and shine a flashlight of any power they fancy at any old owl they turn up. It's what owlers have done for years, and nobody questions it. But yes, owls are dazzled by bright lights just like you and me, and they can lose their night vision temporarily. How long is temporarily? In some cases almost certainly long enough for a vision-impaired owl to fly into an obstacle. This could lead to injury, blinding, and even death. Injuries caused by collision (with cars, but also with a host of other obstacles away from the road) are very common with owls. Common sense suggests that flashlights are only going to add to the hazards they face flying at night.

And yet there seem to be no regulations or guidelines. When you think what some people are probably using to light up owls it's enough to give you the creeps. This train of thought results from a thread on the Owl Pages forum where an expert advises a novice to look for owls with a flashlight. No response there to my own "Ought we really be doing this" comments, so looks like another article's brewing!

powered by owls