The Hawk Conservancy Trust is renowned for having some very special characters in its collection of 150 birds of prey, and a young Tawny Owl called Troy is proving to be no exception.
Troy was brought into the Trust's specialist bird of prey hospital after falling out of the nest last spring. The people who found him had somehow managed to hand rear him for nearly six weeks and when he came to the hospital was completely tame, so it was not possible to return him to the wild.
It was decided that Troy, who is approaching his first birthday, would join other birds of prey in the 'flying demonstration team' at the Trust. However, it was soon discovered that because of his human upbringing he had rather an aversion to heights!
Ashley Smith, Chief Executive Officer, explained 'Troy loves people! It seemed only natural that he would join the flying team in our educational displays but unlike our other owls, who fly up to the tree branches, Troy will fly no higher than Gareth, his handler. Being hand reared has given him a human perspective on life and he will fly no higher than 5'10"!'
To combat this Troy's handler, Gareth Tonen, can often be seen climbing trees at the Trust to alter Troy's view of the world and make the young Tawny Owl more ambitious when it comes to heights.
Campbell Murn, Chief Scientific Officer, said 'this breeding season seems a bit odd as our scientific officers are already finding Tawny Owl nests with chicks. Many of these youngsters will leave their nests before they can fly, but we urge anyone walking in the woods who finds a Tawny Owl chick to leave it where they find it. Rest assured the parents will continue to look after it until it can fly.'