4 April, 2019

Happy birthday children – Raising Great Horned Owls

Will and Sassy turn one year old this week. They've come a long way since flying across my living room and spraying us with napalm shit along the way. Shitpalm, if you will.

Anna doesn’t remember the exact date they were born. Neither do I. But she sounds like a more deplorable human being if I mention her first.

I just come across as being the same dick as always.

They used to be fudging gross

A pair of babies

Either what, we do know it was around a year ago today that they were born.

With this in mind, I wanted to just showcase how much they’ve changed physically in the last twelve months.

I didn’t see them when they were first born. To be honest, I’m not sure I’d even been consulted at the prospect of raising them. It’s just as likely I signed a contract and tot’s forgot. You know how life is.

Anyway, soon enough, these glorified strips of KFC were looking like this:

Great horned owls

I promise – they look far less horrifying now

Honestly – they were the stuff of nightmares.

I was keen on having them live with us for a few weeks, but I didn’t think they’d look quite this grim.

After a few weeks passed, they came to stay with us and became cuteness personified:

They were so timid and shy, Will especially.

The smaller and darker of the two, he’d often hide under his bigger sister. She was by far the braver of the two, but I always figured Will would come to boss his own shit in time.

As time went on, they both became braver. Not only were they happy leaving the cage, but they even managed to jump onto surfaces.

They even seemed fairly relaxed in the company of over-priced technology brands:

Great horned owls and Imac

Personally, I think it could be considered animal cruelty to make them be anywhere near an Apple product.

Then there was the time we heard a massive crash coming from the bathroom.

Anna, ever vigilant, figured whatever it was – it was worth having a camera for.

She wasn’t wrong:

Baby great horned owls in the bathroom

I know it’s probably something all ‘parents’ say, but I’d go back to when they were like this tomorrow.

I’d like to say it’s because they were so innocent and carefree. Everything represented a new experience and it was magical to live vicariously through such new, wonderous eyes.

Truth is – their shit was easier to control.

Honestly, it was like tiny spurts at this point. It stunk and ate through anything it touched, but they at least had the good grace to aim downwards.

When this changed, we started taking them into the outside world and exposing them to a greater variety of stimuli:

They outgrew us

Eventually, they got too big and Gareth (who runs the Kingsley Bird and Falconry Centre) was happy with the job we’d done raising them.

They returned home to the park, just a couple of enclosures up from their parents.

I was in South Africa at this point, but Anna was thrilled to share some photos of their progress.

You know those god awful photographs where people stick their freakish looking children infront of the fireplace for a photo before their first day at school? Yeah, this is basically that:

Anna started inheriting more formal responsibilities at this point, so was spending far more time with them.

I’d get back whenever I could and was always amazed by how strong their personalities were.

I expected they might grow out of them. That with age they’d start becoming more independent and wild. They have to some extent, but the core personalities I remember seeing in them as babies have always been clear.

Happy Birthday, Will and Sassy

So here we are, one year later.

Some people are freaks who just get on better with animals than they do people.

Anna and I are evidently two such freaks.

It makes ‘normal’ relationships and social situations tricky at times. Particularly if you’ve a penchant for making such situations far more awkward than they even need to be, such as I do.

But these glorious creatures don’t care. This is the type of friendship circle you feel spoilt to be in:

Will and Sassy, Great Horned Owls

Will and Sassy, Great Horned Owls

Man and Owl 2 Great Horned Owls Anna Phillips and a Great Horned Owl

To Will and Sassy – thank you for making our lives better.

But you could’ve done it without shitting up the wall.

Just saying.

Will the Great Horned Owl

Will the Great Horned Owl

Posted 4 April, 2019