Monday, 2 June 2014

Short Eared Owl

Short Eared Owl, Asio flammeus

Next up on my list is the Short Eared Owl... Now for me this is the most beautiful owl you will find living in the UK, and quite possibly the most beautiful owl in the world. We have just the one at the BWC, "Fawkes", and we are lucky to have him as they are extremely rare in captivity. 

We hope to be able to find him a mate in the future, and attempt to breed them, but chances are slim. However, if we can find him a mate, we have Julian Ford from Huxley's Falconry Centre on hand to help us with their breeding. He has successfully bred them in the past, and is keen to help.

Short Eared Owl

Fawkes is steady on the glove, and comfortable to be viewed by the public, but he still knows he is an owl and was not hand-reared. Would it be possible to train him to fly?.. I think so, yes, but it would be a lot harder to do than with the rest of our flying team which were hand reared and imprinted. Couple this with the fact he is our only one, I think the risks say best not.

Above is one of my favourite photos of Fawkes. They are ground nesting birds, and so this is more suited to how you may see them in the wild when not flying.

Side-lit Short Eared Owl

We still use Fawkes for our Owl Photographic days, which allows you the opportunity to photograph all seven British owls in one day down on our nature reserve. Above was taken one evening while scouting out the evening light with Andy Rouse in preparation of his owl workshops he runs here. Softly side lit, showing the difference in pupil size in dark and light, and the light allowing to find a natural black background.

Short Eared Owl in the Evening Light

Another side lit one above, on another night, and slightly earlier in the evening. This one shows off his ear tufts nicely. It's not often you see our short eared owls tufts, but as you can see he does have them, they are just, well, short.

Short Eared Owl in Yellow

Another of him on the ground. This one was during the day in the summer, but when it was a bit overcast to avoid the harsh light. Placed in the yellow flowers to compliment his eyes. Is it natural?.. Possibly not, but it makes a pretty picture. 

Fawkes in his new home

And finally, thought I had to include at least one from our new aviaries in these posts. Above is Fawkes in his new home.

Our new aviaries are a huge improvement on the old ones, and allows you to see the owls much better, whilst being better for them too. Win win. Fawkes has settled in extremely well, and is usually perched on the branch above in the middle and back of the pen, or is sat on the ground to the back left under some rush.

You can see our new pens do allow for photography of the owls, this photo was taken from outside the aviary and from behind the stand off barrier, but as I always say for something a bit more special/natural... that's what our photographic days are for.

You can see his ear tufts again too which is nice.

Thanks for looking.

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