Originally posted Sunday, 23 March 2014 18:40
Today it was time to band the owlets with closed bands to show they were raised in captivity. It was also the time to move them inside so they will be well socialized with humans so they will be comfortable in their future lives as educational ambassadors for their species.
Removing the owlets from the aviaries went well...Iris didn't try to attack. I do have to say they are WAY bigger than they look on cam! Little chunks for sure. I put each of them into their own cloth bag and brought them inside. First we weighed them. The younger one was 1.0 lbs and the older 1.3 lbs. Whoa!!
The next step was to put the bands on their legs. Um, yeah. The band seemed too small to go onto the foot of the older owl. DRAT! But with a little finesse it went onto the foot of the younger owl. (Later we tried the oldest owlet again. Hein gently but firmly tucked the front three toes through the band and eased it over the ankle, then gingerly tucked the hallux (hind toe) back through the band. Hallelujah!)
The owlets were nervous at first and shivering due to their nervousness. Hearing Rusty and Iris hoot on the monitoring equipment seemed to calm them down and they went to sleep flat out on their stomachs.
A few hours later Rusty woke the owlets up with his hooting and they sat up. Seemed like a good time to try to feed them, so I cut up the back half of a rat. I used a long forceps to rub a piece of food up against their bills. The younger owlet happily accepted, but the older owlet just hissed a bit and gave me a dirty look. So I played a recording of Iris clucking and feeding the owlets, and that did the trick. Both ate, and they chittered back to the recording of Iris each time. Cool that I can test their reactions to recordings now!
Later when Rusty was hooting one of the owlets did a couple of "peep hoots" in response. I should be able to get some good recordings. This works well to have them hear their parents normally for natural acoustic stimulation!
They had a bit of active time, preening and looking around, and it seems they are already used to their situation. Iris and Rusty seemed to adjust within 1-2 hours also, thank goodness.
Now we will learn to work with the technology and expose the owlets to all kinds of people and places so they are comfortable, well-adjusted education birds in the future.