Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Owl Chick Growth

Archimedes, Long Eared Owl Chick

I try to keep up with any new and interesting books on British wildlife, and today had a new book about owls come through the post. This, along with the fun feedback I have had from the "Hedwig" set of photos of him growing, made me think of posting these photos of owls during their growth.

Above of course is Archimedes, our flying long-eared owl. Below is a series of barn owls followed by tawny owls.

Barn Owl Chicks

When owls start of life they are quite a messy ball of fluff, but much like the ugly duckling story, they mature and develop into beautiful owls. These barn owls above are about 3 weeks old, and it is 3 weeks or younger that I like to get an owl if we are to then train it to fly.

Barn Owl Chick

From a pure white bundle of fluff, the barn owl starts to look messier with some darker colours coming through where feathers are beginning to form. You can even see the classic heart shape face from this young age.

Barn Owl Chick

They moult through there feathers, usually the tail and wings are among the first to develop. This allows them to learn to fly at an early age as possible.

Barn Owl Chick

Feathers then working up the back and around the face. It is usually the front of the owl and the top of the head last to moult through... but not always.

Barn Owl Chick

Then all that is left is a few whips of downy feather all over the body, but mainly around the wings.

Big Pete, Barn Owl

And then there you are... a beautiful adult owl, as beautiful as Big Pete above.

Tawny Owl Chicks

The above two are tawny owl chicks at 2 days old, you can even still see the egg tooth on each of there beaks. I think tawny owl chicks are among the cutest of them all.

Two Young Tawny Owl Chicks

A few days later, and the eyes just opened, still very dependant though of course and still quite fragile.

Tawny Owl Chick

As they grow they become a ball of fluff before the feathers start to come through, but there whole growth stage does not take long. An owl is fully grown in around 12 weeks.

Tawny Owl Chick

As the wing feathers develop, the owl can start to branch out, stepping out on to the branches and flapping its wings, lifting itself off and landing again, just building up the muscles and technique ready for a test flight.

Tawny in the Evening

Once fully grown they are a skilled and adept hunter, and ready to fend for themselves, although they may still stay in the vicinity of mum and dad for a few more weeks before being chased off to find their own territories.

Thanks for looking

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