So, now we had an owl living with us, recovering it’s strength and getting ready for the day we’d release him back into the wild. You can read how we ended up with an owl here Dougie The Owl (Part 1)
I hit the books and the internet hard trying to learn as much about Barn owls as I possibly could and figure out how to best look after our new guest. I also managed to get in contact with a friend of mine who worked at the Kenya bird of prey trust who gave me some good advice on what and how to feed the owl (If youre reading this, thanks Shiv).
I had to find some meat for Dougie but it wouldn’t be easy. For an owl to stay healthy they need ‘roughage’ like feathers, bone and fur in their food to form pellets and keep their digestive system functioning properly. Where the heck was I going to find meat that still had the feathers or fur on it!? This problem, coupled with my limited Thai, was going to be a challenge!
I searched my local market but was unable to find any fury or feathery meat and my ‘Tinglish’ (my form of communication which involves speaking Thai and filling in blanks with English/ mimes!) wasn’t helping the situation either. Luckily, in almost every Thai market if there’s someone selling chicken you can bet there’ll be chiken feet on sale too. I bought some chicken breast and chicken feet and headed home.
We now had a diet figured out for Dougie, chopped up chickens feet, any feathers and fur I could find and chicken breast all soaked in a vitamin solution from the vet.
After the first couple of days I had began to notice that although Dougie was pooping; a lot I hadn’t found any pellets and I was starting to worry. Not to worry, I had a cunning plan!………….
Carly had been needing a hair cut for a while and we thought; ‘why not use her hair to bulk up Dougie’s food?’ This lead to a very awkward haircut where we had to ask the hairdresser if we could keep the hair afterwards. She seemed very perplexed and I tried, using my ‘Tinglish’ to explain that we had a baby owl and it needed to eat the hair. I’m not sure if she bought, or even understood our story. She probably thought we were just weird ‘Farangs’ (foreigners) but in any case, we left the hairdresser’s with the same amount of hair as we went in with!….(Carly hasn’t been back since!)
After feeding Dougie some beef (apparantly red meats are healthier for birds of prey) mixed with some of Carly’s golden locks he produced his first pellet the very next day! (Proud parent alert!) Finally, I felt like we were moving in the right direction, now all Dougie had to do was keep eating and getting stronger.
The next step in Dougie’s progression would be flight. We had to get him to practice flying and strengthen his flight muscles……..
The final part of this story can be found here Dougie the Owl (Part 3)