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Learning Owl Skills

Nyx is a month old now and is almost ready to leave our nest box and face the outside world. The clips from this last week show how her owl skills are increasing as she begins to be more mobile, stronger and a lot more coordinated.

She has so much to learn before she can hunt for herself, but she will not need to do this straight away. When she finally leaves the box, she will be fed for another month or so by Strix and Aluco. First, she needs to build up her wing muscles, ready for that first flight. Her primary feathers are just about complete and her tail feathers are now appearing.

She is clambering about in the nest box. In a natural tree cavity, she would be clambering out and into the trees by now. The depth of this box and its balcony area are designed to ensure she does not fall out too early and the veranda of the box also enables her to have a safe outside space to be fed in, before the final leap into the trees.

This clip shows how she is getting to grips with using both her beak and her feet. Those long legs and big feet need to be fine tuned and this clip made me smile as it is like she is trying out some robotic hand for the first time! Eventually, she will be able to use her feet to grab, kill and hold prey with precision. For now, picking up and holding a feather presents a challenge!

This head bobbing and rotating has been quite evident in the last week. Nyx often does this when she is curious about something. Her eyes are fixed in position and she cannot move them around like we can. Instead, she has to move her whole head. This bobbing can also help them triangulate on their prey, so it is a good skill to practise!

Increasing amounts of wing flapping are happening This is a larger than average box so there is plenty of room to do this inside. In the wild, they will do this at the entrance to the nest chamber. Her first flight will need to get her into the trees, to safety, although many fall to the ground at this point and then scramble and climb up into the tree by flapping, using their talons and their beak. If you ever find one and it looks unharmed, it can be gently placed into a tree if it in an unsafe place. The adults will not be far away. Many end up in rescue when there is nothing wrong with them.

Nyx is also spending time attempting to dust bathe in the materials at the base of the box. As the new feathers emerge, they can be itchy and uncomfortable and may be this helps alleviate this.

Aluco has continued to spend most days with Nyx. When we have had multiple owlets, she left them alone much earlier. There are lots of lovely moments of interaction.

There have been lots of jumps too. These practise jumps will all help with skills for hunting and catching prey

Most prey items have been wood mice which are swallowed in one go. We have had a few larger prey items coming in and usually Aluco will then tear them up for Nyx to eat. This great tit was delivered and Nyx gave it a good go.... but it was just too big!

There are also quite a lot of rats being brought in. Here is Aluco arriving with one...

We are nearing the end of our time with these tawnies. Nyx is now starting to come out onto the platform and I will update the latest ventures on the veranda when I return to lift the footage this week. Soon, she will take her first flight out into the Yew View trees. Until then, you can enjoy the new live stream on the veranda where hopefully we will witness her making her first flight (or fall!) into the garden!


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