Wednesday, August 24, 2011
The Bird Who Stole My Heart
Have you ever experienced something that took you by surprise? I have.
It all started at the end of April this year. I was asked to care for a one month old Eurasian Eagle Owl chick. He was hatched at the end of March this year in WBS’s propagation department Sunnen building, behind-the-scenes. His parents, Martina and Sinbad, did a great job of bringing him into this world.
All baby owls have that "innocent" look
When raising an owl for educational purposes, socialization is the first step. This basically exposes them to many different environments, such as different people, places, and objects. Showing birds various things allows them to become more comfortable around people and easily trainable in the future. Since I have been caring for him, he has experienced many diverse things, such as traveling with me to Grant’s Farm (I am the supervisor for WBS at Grant’s Farm’s Animal Encounters show).
After a couple of days of having this one month old chick in my care, I decided he needed a name. I thought for a long time and could not decide what to name him. Finally, I looked in a baby book and found the perfect name--Emerson. The name just clicks with him and his personality. He is an adorable bird who is curious about everything. For his enrichment he pounces on little down feathers, small bugs and balls of paper.
To look at him here you'd never guess what a large impressive creature he will become
The Eurasian Eagle Owl is one of the largest owls in the world! They have a wingspan ranging from 5 to 6 feet, and they weigh between 3 ½ to 7 pounds. These enormous owls stand to an impressive height of 2 to 2 ½ feet tall. Compare that to the smallest owl in the world, the Elf Owl. Those little guys weigh about 1½ ounces and are about the size of a sparrow! An Eagle Owl’s diet in the wild consists of a wide variety of meat, such as birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, but mostly mammals. The largest animal they have been known to prey upon is small deer. They are native to Europe, Asia and North Africa and inhabit areas that have wooded habitats and rocky cliffs. They like to nest on these cliffs and lay 2 to 4 eggs per clutch.
Emerson trying out all that new adult plumage
My experience with Emerson has been and will be unforgettable and will be one of my most cherished memories! I have watched him grow from a small fluff ball to a large impressive adult. I have trained him to go into his crate (and like it), stand on indoor and outdoor perches and stand on my glove.
Because of his careful socialization he acts very calm on my glove when we walk around the site. The first time he got on my glove was an amazing feeling. He stood very tall looking around from his new vantage point.
It was also heart stopping to watch him fly for the first time, even if it was a short distance (from my couch to my bed). He has made me so proud of what he has accomplished, even if it is part of his natural instincts.
Now what am I supposed to do with this?
His first bath in his water bowl was very interesting to watch! He didn’t know exactly what to do after he jumped in. Emerson just stood there looking at me, seemingly waiting for advice. A second later he jumped right out. Then after about 2 minutes of staring at the water he finally went back in again and took a very wet bath!
OK, NOW I get the picture!
Do I sound like a proud parent? Needless to say my heart is taken!!!
Submitted by Lisbeth Hodges, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist/Trainer