Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sleeping On The Job

Can you find George? I guess sleeping in the gift store is one way to camouflage himself...

Age: 2 months old
Note: his adult feathers are starting to really grow in. He has "suspenders" coming down his chest!

Memories of summer

Looking through the summer's photos will keep me warm through these tough Canadian winters. Right? RIGHT?

SBOIC was fortunate enough to partner with SaskPower to deliver "Wise Owlets Ecology Camps" for Moose Jaw youth. Kids learned about prairie ecology and conservation, and of course, got to meet some of the critters living at SBOIC.

One of the most popular camp activities was catching grasshoppers in the native prairie beside our Centre. Much to the delight of our owls, some of these grasshoppers would find their way into their enclosures and become a light snack.

Hmmm, what else can I wreck?

In addition to wrecking several houseplants, Shorty once shredded an entire box of tissue paper.

She sat on top of the tissue box, gripped the box in her sharp talons, and methodically pulled out each sheet with her beak. She transferred the tissue from her beak to a foot, and then proceeded to rip the sheet into a thousand little pieces. Once finished, she would pull another sheet out of the box and keep ripping until the box was completely empty.

Imagine my surprise when I woke up and found my bedroom looking like a snowstorm!

As I cleaned up the mess (and what a mess it was!), I wondered if this was nesting behaviour... If so, Shorty had a long way to perfection...

Not interested....

Wait, this tennis ball has eyes.

You want me to throw THAT?

In the wild, growing burrowing owl chicks spend a lot of time outside the nest burrow. They pounce on grasshoppers, play with sticks, and scrabble for food with their siblings. Their antics are fun to watch, but these owlets are actually learning important life skills like flying and hunting.

Sibling Rivalry

Can you find the owl?

If you have brothers or sisters, you’ll understand. My dog's life was turned upside town when she was introduced to two owls. She had to start sharing her things. Even her beds.

Shorty soon learned that the bedroom was the quietest and darkest place to nap during the day.

Short-eared owls often roost (sleep) in tufts of grass in the wild. The grass serves as great camouflage and probably a good break from the wind too. I never considered comfort to be important to wild animals, but I suppose a dog bed is like a bed of soft grass.

Even George thought the dog beds were great.

Well, where did that leave my dog?

I looked up from my computer one day to find my dog sitting in Shorty's carrying crate. All her bed's were being used, so it was time to take matter into her own hands (paws, hehe).

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Traffic Stopper

Age: 40 days old
Mood: Grouchy

George decided to nap by the back entrance, so we had to lock the back door to the Interpretive Centre to stop any thorough traffic... just so he wouldn't be disturbed while napping. Talk about star treatment, sheesh...

All we're missing were the traffic cones!

Sssssshhhhhhh, George is sleeping....

Friday, October 23, 2009

Perfect Roost

Flashback: June 19, several weeks old

At least if Shorty poops, the dirty laundry is already in the basket. I call that Win Win.

Get the hint yet?

Flashback: 16 days old
Looking back, I still can't believe how quickly George grew. In this photo, George is peeking out at the rest of the big world.
At 16 days old, he was already too big and too active for his case. He left me scrambling for a box that was neither too small or too big.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Otherwise Known As....

Burrowing owls go by many names: Ground Owl, Coo Coo Owl, Billy Owl, and Prairie Bobber.

My favourite, though, is the "Howdy Owl" and I think this video shows the spirit of this name.

George says....

George says to visit our website!

There is lots of information about burrowing owls, our Owls On Tour program, and our Adopt An Owl fundraiser.

WARNING: Not for the faint of heart!

Ever wonder how owls eat mice?

Burrowing owls are quite small compared to their prey, so they rip their mice apart with their sharp beak and talons. Eating it bite by bite, it takes a few minutes to devour a mouse.

A short-eared owl, on the other hand, can wolf down a mouse in seconds. Behold! Shorty lunching on a mouse!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Stink Eye

Age: 39 days old

This is what people mean by stink eye. No one does it better than owls...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

VIP Accommodations

Age: 33 days old

Since George is an ambassador owl, his job is to travel around Saskatchewan helping us teach people about burrowing owl and prairie conservation.

To carry him safely between buildings and vehicles, he has a cool carrying case. With a soft fleece cover, George can often be found snoozing on top (the penthouse) or in front (the patio).

George's vision is still developing, so he often bobs or turns his head for better perception. While owls never grow out of this, they bob a lot more as owlets.

Last note, I swear. This last photo gives a good view of George's jesses (those leather bits on his legs). These soft leather jesses are for when George is "working" because a short leash is clipped into the ends. This prevents him from flying away and injuring himself if he gets spooked. When not working and putzing around the office or his enclosure, George is not leashed.

Modern Art

A slightly older photo of Shorty, where he/she still has some fluff.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Top Heavy

Age: 8 days old flashback

I can't help but flip through old photos of George. And he's only a few months old too, what will I do when he's a year old?

One thing I've noticed is that George was a very top heavy youngster. I think he's either fallen asleep and toppled over. Or he's toppled over and fallen asleep. Hard to tell....

Monday, August 17, 2009

Life is good

Age: 28 days old
Mass: 146 grams

Don't you wish your job included sleeping in a sunbeam?

As a resident ambassador owl, George's job is pretty cushy. His day includes eating some mice, meeting some people, sleeping in sunbeams, and occasionally helping out in our gift store.

Okay, he does a lot more than that. George isn't even a month old and he has already met over 2,500 people! Between attending local festivals, delivering outreach programs, and wowing visitors, George has certainly earned his nap.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Goggly Eyes

Did you know that most birds have three eyelids?

The third eyelid is called a nictitating membrane and it helps protect and moisten the eye. And it's SEE THROUGH! So birds can keep flying, swimming, or even stay on the lookout while blinking. It's like having a built in pair of goggles.

What a cool photo, thanks Laurie!

People to see, places to be

Age: 27 days old
Mass: Too heavy to post.

I've been trying to take video of George running, it's a must see.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Did someone say mouse?

Age: 26 days old
Mass: 139 grams

George's weight gain has finally started to slow down! Down from six feedings a day to three feedings, George is eating about 1.5 mouse (mice?) a day. While George doesn't answer to his name, he comes running when his food bin comes out.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Godzilla Owl

"Stomp stomp stomp, bite bite bite, stomp stomp stomp"

I've discovered why so many of my house plants are missing leaves and looking flatter than usual.....

Yes, Shorty, I'm looking at you.

On a unrelated note, Shorty has grown into such a beautiful owl!

Monday, July 20, 2009


Age: 25 days old
Mass: 137 grams

I don't know if owls can dream, but I've learned that they can fart, hiccup, and sneeze.

Extreme Close Up!

I don't know about other birds, but owls are talented sleepers. They can sleep standing on two legs and balanced on one leg. Sometimes they even sit on their "bum" and rest on their ankles, like George here.


Age: 24 days old
Mass: 135 grams

My dog thinks I should trade in this new puppy with something more lively. Something that will play with tennis balls and squeaky toys... instead of ignoring her and all her gifts.

Actually, George is getting very active and often flaps around while running. Soon enough, he'll begin to fly. And he'll be able to ignore my dog from greater heights.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Georgie's a big boy now

Age: 23 days old
Mass: 134 grams

George is a big boy now and doesn't need no stink'in incubator. Just a heating pad is fine.

This little bundle of fluff is certainly a lot more self sufficient compared to the start of this blog. While George has perfected the art of begging for food, he can at least stay warm by himself, run around, and is even starting to tear food apart.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Adopt An Owl

George's parents, like most of our other burrowing owls, are a mixed bunch.

This is Sherman, one of my faves, because he's a feisty little owl that doesn't let a droopy wing get in his way. Sherman was brought in after being hit by a truck, and then flying into a barbed wire fence... it was a twofer. Named after the fellow behind the wheel, Sherman was taken to the vet, who fixed his broken wing. After recovery and two days before his arrival at SBOIC, Sherman flew into a wall and broke his wing again! (I never said owls were smrt) Fixed up a second time, Sherman has been a great addition to our SBOIC population and has raised many baby owlets.

Check out this link to help us feed our injured owls: Adopt An Owl.

There's lots of owls to help, like George, Cookie, Spike, Kay, Valentino, Sanders, Trooper, Abraham, Sherman, Gale, and Zeus.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hide and Seek

Age: 22 days old
Mass: 131 grams

It's hard to hide those big feet.

Five reasons why owls should be outdoors

Especially when they are learning how to fly.

1. Sticky fly strips
2. Hanging mobiles
3. Wall mounted ceramics
4. Souvenir Guinness clock from Dublin
5. Owner of above items :(

Shorty is practicing his flying wings and taking the house down with him.

Thankfully nothing broke despite gravity or owl, and it only took a minute to free a small tab of sticky fly paper out of his tail feathers. I spent the next hour further owl-proofing the house.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Feeding Time

Age: 21 days old
Mass: 133 grams

George is still learning how to fly and it seems to be a matter of trial and error. Mostly error.

George is starting to pull at his food, which means that soon he'll be able to tear into his own mouse. It's a matter of practice, and of course, developing stronger muscles.

My dog is always curious and wants in on the action, but George is clearly not going to share. Go, George, GO!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Important Discovery

This is Sanders, another ambassador owl, doing her best impression of a solar panel. When relaxed and presented with a sunbeam, burrowing owls will soak up the rays by laying flat and sometimes even spreading the wings to absorb more heat.

Spotting a sunbeam in the corner of our interpretive centre, I decided to find out if George loved sunbeams as much as the next burrowing owl.

After setting George down in the middle of a hearty sunbeam, this is how he immediately reacted.

Let's take a close up.

Oh dear, I disturbed his reverie.

This deserves some video. LOOK AT HIS TINY TAIL!

I think this was an important day for George. Sunbeams are awesome.

Age: 20 days old
Mass: 126 grams

Meet George

Age: 19 days old
Mass: 123 grams

SBOIC is opening a new interpretive exhibit called "Endangered Spaces, Endangered Species" on July 11th.

Check out our new exhibit, meet some owls (including George), and learn about conservation on the prairies.

Festivities start at 1pm, with a ribbon cutting ceremony. At 2pm, we'll be joined by the hosts of Hinterland Who's Who. Guided tours, cake, and crafts will follow. See our website for more info:

Mr. Squishy

Age: 18 days old
Mass: 117 grams

While George looks like a tennis ball with legs, I assure you that it's mostly feathers. Here, George is alseep, leaning against his plastic case, and you can see that half of him squishes right down.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Take #1. Okay, take #2. Well, fine, take #3.

Age: 17 days old
Mass: 115 grams

If it seems like I post a lot of photos of George asleep, that's because sometimes it's really hard to take a picture of him standing still.

Once he figured out how to run (and by run, I mean sprint), George has been exercising his freedom to explore and fall down.

In front of house guests, no less...

George is pretty sleepy here, napping away.

But, like the rest of us, those naps can get away from us.

Owls have seriously bendy necks - as they should, since they have 14 neck bones compared to our measly 7.

Let's take a page from and see an Extreme Close-up of this redonkulousness.

Yes, I think his beak is actually touching the ground.

****SBOIC is licensed to keep and display all their educational animals. Only qualifed individuals with proper permits are allowed to keep native species. Taking an animal from its wild home is illegal. Keep our animals wild, and leave them in their homes.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bed Hog

Age: 16 days old
Mass: 109 grams

See what I mean? I'll never get my slippers back...

****SBOIC is licensed to keep and display all their educational animals. Only qualifed individuals with proper permits are allowed to keep native species. Taking an animal from its wild home is illegal. Keep our animals wild, and leave them in their homes.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Animal Magnetism

Nice business clothes are a magnet for owl poop. Gah!


Peculiar Housemates

Age: 15 days old
Mass: 101 grams

My dog is extremely disapointed that the two new puppies won't play with her. Despite offering her treasured tennis ball to George, she's still waiting for some kind of acknowledgement. Anything. Anything at all....

In the wild, there are many predators that will make a quick lunch of a burrowing owl. Great horned owls, hawks, weasels, skunks, raccoons, house cats, badgers, foxes, and even snakes are some of the animals that burrowing owls have to keep an eye out for.

Growing up with my dog, George is completely fearless. He'll run through her legs and has no problem taking a nap beside my 42 lb dog. I hope this kind of upbringing will be useful because we sometimes take the ambassador owls out to park festivals where people also walk their dogs. The dogs don't usually notice the owls, but Sanders and Trooper can spot a dog from afar and will spook easily.

****SBOIC is licensed to keep and display all their educational animals. Only qualifed individuals with proper permits are allowed to keep native species. Taking an animal from its wild home is illegal. Keep our animals wild, and leave them in their homes.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

I didn't like them anyways....

Age: 14 days old
Mass: 94 grams

Actually, they were my favourite slippers, but I guess I'll need new ones next winter.

George is growing quickly and starting to explore his surroundings. On his travels, he found a stray slipper and made it his own.

For the next few days, I left the slipper inside his carrying case and would often find him snuggled against it, sleeping soundly.

****SBOIC is licensed to keep and display all their educational animals. Only qualifed individuals with proper permits are allowed to keep native species. Taking an animal from its wild home is illegal. Keep our animals wild, and leave them in their homes.