Owlfredo, our guest for a month

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It was one of the hottest days of the year at 42º in the shade and we were all feeling it, but not half as much as the juvenile Tawny Owl I spotted sitting right out in full sun while I was coming back from Odemira.

Screeching to an emergency stop I disentangled my passenger from the dashboard, reassured her everything was OK and rushed back to confirm that it was indeed a Tawny out in the middle of the day and sitting on the ground. Sure enough, there it was and it made no attempt to flee as I carefully approached. It was obviously on its last legs and would die soon if nothing was done.

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Well, it was too far gone for any official Nature Emergency body to get there in time so I scooped it up and took it home to see what we could do to save its life.

The first thing was obviously to re-hydrate it which we did with straws and teaspoonfulls of water over the next few days. It was definitely touch-and-go but with the help of an excellent video we found on the Barn Owl Trust website at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bp_Juv6_2k8 we wrapped Owlfredo, (yes, we gave it a name of course - we couldn't keep referring to it as "the owl"), in a towel four or five times a day and Daniela and Elias fed it up over the next few weeks.

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Owlfredo grew in strength really quite quickly. We kept him safe in a plastic crate with another one balanced on top over which we spread a blanket during the day and took him/her out every evening to sit with us a while after dinner.

Owlfredo in crate

Completely unfazed, Owlfredo would sit there with us, aware to every slightest sound, the huge eyes taking everything in, the neck seemingly swivveling 460º.

Owlfredo on the chair

We reckoned he'd show us when he was ready to leave, and sure enough he did. One morning we came downstairs to find he'd pushed the top crate off and was nowhere to be seen. Obviously we looked all around for him and a little later found him tucked down in the vegetation scarcely three meters away ... can you see him?

Owlfredo hiding

Here's the same pic blown up ...

Owlfredo hiding blown up

He was truly feeling at home, even with the five dogs we have at the Quinta - we actually find that a great deal of wildlife roosts/sleeps in the garden, preferring to take their chances with our sleepy dogs than the wide-awake predators we have roundabouts, but I digress.

We put him back just in case but the next morning he was gone for good. We like to think we hear him at night now, (and he was definitely around for a few days), but of course we can't be sure.

What we do have though is the thought that we saved his life, and a wealth of photos and many lovely memories of his sojourn with us, brief though it was.


Birding in Portugal

Quinta do Barranco da Estrada
7665-880 Santa Clara a Velha

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Phone : (+351) 283 933 065
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