Michael Dooley's Place ~ C bar lazy M

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the Owl

Updated 07 September 2004


Tuesday Nite - 7th of September 2004


This is my Adios to the Owl. Apologies for the quality of the pictures, they were taken in low light the night before it became ill.

Late in the morning last Thursday, it slumped down, it’s legs splayed out, and seemed to lose control of it’s wings. The only thing that seemed to have normal movement was it’s head. It would move around with it’s beak and it’s wings. It’s condition remained that way ‘til it died Sunday morning. I fed it with a syringe containing a liquified mixture of meat, oatmeal, water and vitamins. It maintained it’s usual cranky attitude with me right to the end. (cont. below)

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When we were face-to-face, it would turn it’s head from side-to-side, sometimes rotating it’s head 170║ so it’s head was almost upside down, and then slowly rotating it in the opposite direction until it’s head was upside down again. It was so comical that sometimes I would break out laughing. I can’t imagine what information it gathered doing this. If it wasn’t rotating it’s head, it was bobbing from side-to-side which I think had something to do with depth perception.

It was an odd relationship that lasted 79 days. In that space of time I watched it grow from a ugly downy chick to a handsome full-grown owl. It reminded me of a Great Dane that I had, in the way it developed - very rapidly. We were never friends, I couldn’t even call it an acquaintance. A couple of times I thought it recognized me as a source of food, but that was probably my imagination brought on by the desire for it to like me. A few times it perched on my finger, not willingly, just staring at me. I wondered what was going through it’s tiny predator brain. A couple of times when I came in after dark, Benito and I would walk over to the far wall to turn on the lights in the kitchen, and there it would be, staring up at us. We had walked right by it and it didn’t make a sound or attack. And yet, to this moment, when I walk in the bedroom, I am ready to jump out of the way when I approach the bed because the little creep would run out from under the bed with the apparent intention of attacking my ankles. It never got me, but it came close. At other times, I would be sitting in my recliner, and here it would come down the hallway, hop down the steps into the living room, wander around inspecting things, and then eventually head back to the bedroom. If I made any attempt to approach it, it would go berserk. The dogs paid no attention to it, or it to them.

Obviously, it recognized the house as a sanctuary, and a place to get food. We tolerated each other. If you think a cat is aloof - get an owl. An owl makes cats look like they’ve been to charm school.

As often as I tried, I could not get it to stay outside. And it never did fly. It may have been assassinated by the Jackrabbits; I heard they had a contract out on it. I miss it.

Sunday Morn - 5th of September


The Owl died just after Midnight ~

Thursday Nite - 2nd September


Things are not looking well. The Owl appears to be very ill. It is listless and can’t walk, and it stopped eating yesterday afternoon. It is acting like it did before when it appeared to have had a stroke. It is curled up in a corner and gets very cranky when I get close to it. Well, it’s always very cranky when I get close to it. I don’t know what to do for it. If it dies it will break my heart ~

Sunday Nite - 15th August


Well - here it is - all growed up! Living under my bed with occasional excursions under the window. At night it sometimes wanders around the house. I am going to try to put it out again tomorrow; it’s been in the house for over a week now. Every time I put it out it shows up at the back door within 36 hours, usually between noon and 1600, runs by me, through the kitchen, down the hall and into the bedroom. Friday I took it outside to exercise it’s wings in the hope I can get it to fly, but had no luck. It got really pissed off at me and when I put it down, it ran back in the house and went to it’s place in the bedroom and now it won’t come out from under the bed.

Maybe I’ve started a new strain of Barn Owls - a House Owl. I’m stymied. I mean, what would you do? You open the back door and there is this owl standing there, looking pitiful, and then it runs in your house like it belongs there. If it intends to live here, I am going to have to build a big aviary thingy for it to live in; I can’t just let it run around the house. For one thing, it could hurt somebody who - not aware of it’s disposition - went to pet it. It’s talons are needles and pierce ones skin like it was rice paper. It went to the bone on my right hand one day - it smarts. Yeah, and now I wear gloves. And it’s kinda messy, if you know what I mean. It’s knocking down a quarter to a third of pound of meat a day now.

I go in the bedroom every day and lay down by the bed. I make various noises, and it responds with a kind of trilling sound. Sometimes it gets really excited and starts dancing around while talking to me.

Grew up to be quite handsome, don’t you think?

13 August 2004
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Saturday Nite - 31st July

It has been a few days since I’ve talked about the owl. Wednesday it came to the back door about noon, and I let it in. It hopped, skipped and jumped down the hallway- which is it’s version of running, into my bedroom, and took up residence beneath the head of my bed. And it’s been there every since. Well, a couple of times it has wandered around the house, but it always goes back to my bedroom. Thursday night, I was in the living room reading a Steven Koontz novel - Hong Kong - and I felt someone or thing was staring at me. That feeling is not that uncommon, by the way, I think this place is haunted. I looked towards the hallway and there’s the owl, sitting and staring at me. I asked it what it wanted, and it turned and went back to the bedroom. I have noticed that it’s not very talkative, except when I pick it up and it goes into it’s screech mode, I mean, it really gets pissy. So I got some rabbit and went in and fed it, and I guess that’s what it wanted ‘cause it ate a bunch.

Today was another milestone, at least for me. I’ve been feeding it off a spoon. Today I put the meat on a plate and sat it down by the bed, and it came out and ate off the plate. That’s good for me, ‘cause I usually burn 10 or 15 minutes feeding it, laying on my stomach by the bed. I just went in to feed it again and it did something different, it picked up a piece of meat with it’s right foot and then ate it. Then it clutched another piece, ate the others, then finished off the one it was clutching. And, it definitely prefers rabbit to beef.

I will attempt to take a picture of it tomorrow and get it up here shortly. It is grown up. It looks like a regular grown up owl to me, although I admit my association with owls is pretty much limited to Disney movies and the like. What I’m getting at, is that it looks like it is ready to take wing, but it never tries to fly. When it’s running or walking it uses the tips of it’s wings like outriggers. When it was little, it would flap them, in a coordinated fashion, actually, but for the last couple of weeks it doesn’t seem to have much control over them. When it "roosts," I’ve seen it standing on one of it’s wings. Don’t think that’s right.

I am going to take it out tomorrow and see if I can get it to start down the road to solo. Then, hopefully, it will start killing for itself. I really don’t like it being dependent upon me. I’m old - if I go - it goes. Well, actually, I think Clemente would take it over. The problem with it is - it is not tame. It acts very much like the wild thing it’s supposed to be when you get near it. And if you get too near, it can get painful. Couple of days ago it sank one of it’s talons all the way to the bone it my right hand. Smarts!


Tuesday Night- 27th July


Well, so much for not coming to the back door. After feeding the monster this morning I let it out the back door, and instead of running for it’s place, it milled around in the breezeway for about 10 minutes and then took off around the south side of the Casita, which for this owl is unknown and uncharted territory. Later I went out looking for it and couldn’t find it. I told Clemente, who was over by the shop, that I couldn’t find it, and he said, "Oh, I saw it about a half hour ago at my front door."  I asked him if he let it in and he said no, it didn’t want to go in, just was hanging out. Then I went and looked in it’s bucket, and there it was.

This afternoon, about 1300, as I was going outside, there it was at my back door. It just stood there on the sill looking up at me. I said, "Well - if you’re coming in - come on! You’re letting all the flies in." It ran past me and headed for my bedroom, looking like a hunchbacked caped crusader as it disappeared down the hallway. I went in there about 1800 with rabbit-in-a-ziplock and found it under the head of my bed sitting on my Remington 700 BDL gun case. I laid down on the floor, put some meat on a spoon and held it near the carpet just under the bed side. It jumped off the gun case, walked over to the spoon and ate the meat. Well, it didn’t go straight for the food, there is always a ritual dance that involves a lot of steps that remind me of the way I fox-trot and a lot of head bobbing and weaving as it approaches for the kill - and then it strikes! This is a first. I’ve always had to present the food to it right under it’s nose. Now it recognizes the spoon as a place to go to when it’s time to eat. It ate several pieces, which means today it has consumed about a quarter pound. It is getting quite handsome and grown-up looking.

Which leads me to the point of this dissertation (thank the heavens above - right?). When the various references that you read when you’re trying to find out what to do for an orphaned animal state, "... walk away and let nature take it’s course." I think what they meant was, unless you are prepared for the possibility that the animal will become dependent upon you, and you are willing to feed it day in and day out, all the while receiving no love or gratitude from it what-so-ever, then walk away and let nature take it’s course. Or, brother - you are stuck!

Nice Moon tonight...


Monday Sunset- 26th July


As of Saturday, it has stopped coming to the back door to be let in, at least for the time being. Saturday - around sunset - I went out and fed it near it’s place. It did not eat much, maybe four or five pieces of meat. Sunday night I went out and brought it in - kicking and screaming - and fed it, and it ate quite a bit, then I turned it out again. I brought it in a couple of hours ago and it ate six or seven pieces. You can tell when it has had enough because it’s eyes get real slitty and it goes into an immediate after dinner nap mode. Cracks me up. Just put it out the back door and it ran to it’s place.


Saturday Afternoon- 24th July


Daughter Michelle sent me the following ~

Mortality: Barn Owls are short-lived birds. Most die in their first year of life, with the average life expectancy being 1 to 2 years in the wild. In North America the oldest known Barn Owl in the wild lived to be 11 years, 6 months. In Holland, a wild barn owl lived to be 17 years, 10 months old. In England, a captive female barn owl was still breeding at 22 years old!

She also sent me this really neat link that tells a lot about my owl -

Desert Barn Owl



Wednesday Nite- 21st July


Clemente and I went over to Somerton Airport this morning to pick up some stuff that Stan Lawless was giving us - paint and other stuff. When we got back, it was just before noon. As I walked into the breezeway heading for the back door - so I could let Benito out - there was the owl, standing at the back door. It just stood there, looking up at me as I opened the door. Benito ran out, not giving the owl a second glance, and the owl ran into the kitchen and into the bedroom. When I got in there, it was standing beside it’s box. Typically, it tried to rip my hand off when I picked it up to put it in it’s box. Five minutes later I fed it a lot of meat. Then it went into it’s nap mode. At sunset I fed it a bunch more meat, picked it up, setting off a tirade of epitaphs, screaming and attempting to pull my veins and tendons out of my wrist, and took it outside - just outside the door - set it down and it scampered off across the yard to it’s place. For three days we’ve been going through the same routine. It appears that the reason the owl comes to the door is a) the owl doesn’t like the heat, or b) the owl wants to get fed, or c) both. I am wondering how long we will stay in this mode.
 
It is really grown up now, but never attempts to fly, just does it’s running, hopping, goofy footed gait when it wants to go somewhere. It is not friendly, there is no way I could say to somebody, “Look! I’ve got a pet owl!” And then expect to hear, “Wow, neat!” as they give me admiring looks. Because the only looks I am going to get are those of a incredulous nature - the kind associated with their thinking, ‘This guy is nuts, keeping this winged carnivore around.’
 
It wouldn’t be so bad if it would just indicate that it appreciates what I’ve done for it. When I pick it, kicking and screaming, and it’s in the palm of my hand, I stroke it a couple of times on the back of it’s head down to it’s tail feathers and it settles down, just sitting in my hand with it’s legs and wings hanging down. And it stays very still as I transport it to wherever. But all the while it is looking up at me with those little shiny beady black eyes. And the look translates to, ‘if I could just get to his eyes - I could blind him...’
 
Obviously the owl fascinates me, and I’m sure that some of you tune in just to see what is happening with the owl, but this same story day after day has got to be boring, so, other than putting up a current photo of the little predator, I won’t be making any more updates until something major happens - it flys, it makes it’s first kill, it kisses me (it has winked at me), it gets married. Let’s hope that it transitions out of this here nor there place it’s in and becomes the totally wild thing it’s supposed to be. Wish us luck.

Tuesday Nite- 20th July


The owl showed up at the back door this afternoon, again. When I opened the door, it ran past me and into the bedroom and sttod by it’s box. I picked it up and put it in the box. Guess it doesn’t like the heat. Fed it and then fed it again at sunset. Took it outside and it ran to it’s hiding place. Is there such a thing as an “owl door” - like a doggie door?

Saturday Nite - 17th July


The owl has been spending more time outside this past week. I brought it in Wednesday afternoon because it had not eaten (as far as I could tell) for over 24 hours. Although The Owl Pages said not to put water in with it, I’ve kept a bowl of water in the box with it since day 1. I set it down in the box, and in less than a minute it was in the water and appeared to be drinking, or at least washing it’s face.

And while I’m on the subject of it’s face, since it came to me almost a month ago, it has got to be quite good looking. If you look at the early pics, only a mother could love a chick that ugly.

I put it back outside Thursday morn. The next time it ate was yesterday - Friday - afternoon, and that was outside, a first. I took food out to it today, and it wouldn’t eat, just made attacking motions like it wanted to tear my eyes out. I went out just before sunset and tried to feed it, and it just got real pissy, so I brought it in, put it in it’s box, and it ate a bunch. Took it back outside and it walked/hopped into it’s hidey hole.

I’m stumped. It’s pretty much grown up, lost most of it’s down, and looks like an owl. It doesn’t seem to know what to do with it’s wings, I mean, it’s really a spaz. I am hoping this is a stage just before it takes to the air. Oh well, worst case scenario is we’ll have to feed it. I still think it would have died if we hadn’t cared for it.

Wednesday Nite - 14th


The owl is meaner than a - well - owl, and back to eating a lot. Been feeding it beef and Jackrabbit, but ran out of Jackrabbit this morning. Clemente and son James brought me in about two pounds worth this evening. Hopefully it will be on it’s own before too long.

Monday Nite - 12th
Coming up on 2000 and it's still 104║. Just brought the little (well - not so little anymore) owl in as it has been out since last nite without any apparent food or water. I tried to feed it earlier, but it just got real pissy. The "Owl Pages" say not to put water in with it, but TenÚ said too, and when I set it down in the box, it was in the bowl of water in less than a minute - and appeared to be drinking. I'll let it settle a bit then try to feed it again.

OK - just went in with a couple of ozs of cubed top sirloin (no - I didn’t kill the bull) and the little guy/gal scarfed it up! Guess it hadn’t eaten since I fed it yesterday morning.


11 July 2004 – Sunday Afternoon



I took the owl out last nite just before sunset and set it down near where the chickens feed. I left for about 10 minutes, and when I came back it was gone. I searched under the all the oleanders, citrus trees, and palms, and I couldn’t find it. I went back out about 2100 and looked for it again, but no luck. It has spent one other night out, so I hoped for the best. I looked for it this morning at 0800, and then again at 1100, and again no owl. I set about cleaning and prepping the smoker, and needed a pair of pliers to remove the grates, so I went to the shop and when I walked in, there it was next to the grinder which sets by the shelves. It was already over 100║ here so the little creature was panting. I picked it up and carried it into the house and put it in it’s box and then tried to feed it. It wouldn’t eat. I’ve left it to cool and calm down, maybe it will eat this afternoon. Still hope that it makes it to adulthood - it’s almost there. Most of it’s down has fallen off and it has a lot of big feathers. I think later today I will take a picture of it and measure it’s wing span.

Wednesday - the 7th - Noticed yesterday afternoon that the little Barn Owl was acting kinda funny - like it had a stroke. It doesn’t seem to be able to control it’s right wing and leg properly. I took it outside about sunset and set it down on the ground and it wandered into the oleanders, and appeared to settle in for the night. This morning I went looking for it and couldn’t find it. Clemente found it a couple of hours later, where it had hidden beneath some dead fronds under a little palm. It seemed better. I tried to feed it, but it wouldn’t take any food. I picked it up and brought it back in and set it in it’s box, and it ate several pieces of meat. Took it back outside and put it back in it’s little hideaway beneath the palm. It looks like it is almost big enough to fly. I sure hope it turns out okay.


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05 July 2004

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03 July 2004

Monday - the 5th - Took the owl out by it’s palm tree this morning. Judging by it’s crabbiness, I don’t think it is ever going to take to humans. It managed to get a couple of it’s talons into my forearm and draw blood, boy! did that smart; what a crank! No appreciation whatsoever for the trouble I go through to see that that it grows up big and strong. Yesterday it was fairly docile, and was pretty laid back when I fed it, but today - yikes! I estimate it’s wingspan to be two-and-half to three feet - big wings for such a tiny body. With all it’s screeching this morning, I was sure mama owl would come down, but not a sign. Here’s this mornings photo...


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Bad Hair Day
Saturday Morn Owl Update - the 26th - Little owl seems to be thriving. It is a little bigger and it’s down is beginning to shed as it’s feathers grow. Feathers are beginning to show behind it’s neck and the tail feathers are growing longer; the wing feathers, the “flight” ones on the trailing edge, are developing rapidly and now run all the way across it’s span. It now perches on my hand with little concern, but it’s talons are getting stronger, it broke the skin on the back of my hand last night. It’s beak still isn’t strong enough to break the skin. Besides the hissing and chick sounds, it now makes a sharp clicking sound.
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"Gimme That Meat!!!"
Monday Morn Baby Owl Update - 21st - When Clemente and son James came over last night to see the owl, Mark & I were standing next to the freezer looking into the box, and we heard a loud hissing, as a large snake would make. I backed away from the freezer thinking that the snake was under the freezer, saying, “What the hell is that?” Mark says, “It’s the owl.” That is the first time it ever made a noise. I brought it in last night and when I found it this morning it was between the side of the refrigerator and the wall. I found it because it hissed at me. And it’s not just a hiss hiss, it’s a long, multi-segmented hiss. Obviously designed to frighten an aggressor; makes Benito back up. Well - got to go watch it engulf a few ounces of hamburger.

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This Is How It All Started ~

It’s Friday Eve - 18th June At about 2130, I hear a tiny knocking on my sliding glass door off of the dining room. I look over the table and don’t see anything. Finally, I get up and go out into the breezeway, and there is a little white owl, maybe a couple of months old. I guess that age, ‘cause about that long ago I found a newborn at the bottom of one of the palm trees, and I figured it got pushed out of the nest by it’s sibling. I would bet this is the sibling. Anyway, it’s not fully developed yet, and appears not to be able to fly. We had a pretty strong wind today, and Clemente thinks that maybe it got blown out of the nest. After it’s strong little talons grabbed my gloved finger, I doubt it got blown out of the nest. Maybe it was stumbling around on the edge of the nest, tripped, and went overboard. It is kinda spastic. It’s mom is very active around here at night, and the hunting must be good because sometimes the leftovers are just missing tidbits, like the head. I guess that’s a delicacy to an owl.

Clemente said he thinks there is one of those places in the area that takes care of wildlife. I hope so.

I’ve tried to feed it, but it just wants to kill me...


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Saturday - the 3rd - If you compare the pictures below to pictures taken a few days ago, I think you’ll see how much more developed the feathers are. Really, I think if I sat and watched it by the hour, I would see the feathers grow; every time I look at it, it’s got more feathers! The tree shown in the lower right is the one it took a dive out of.

Saturday Morn Owl Update - the 3rd - The little predator is growing fast, size as well as feathers. Had to start wearing gloves again; it’s talons as well as it’s beak are getting very strong. In a few days I think it’s beak will be capable of ripping the flesh from my hand. I was wondering if it is growing faster that it would have in the wild. Probably not, but I’m sure it’s getting more food than it would if it were home. I can’t get over how fast it’s growing.

I took it outside yesterday around sunset - near the palm tree where it’s mama lives. I set it on the ground and it made it’s way to a tangelo tree nearby and tried to hide. I kept a sharp eye out for mama, thinking she might come out when she heard the little one make it’s noises. I left it alone for about twenty minutes, then picked it up and put it back in it’s bassinet. I’m afraid to let it go yet for fear a cat or coyote would get it, although it wouldn’t make much of a meal. It looks big but it’s mostly feathers and down.

I have been concerned that it might be difficult for it to return to it’s own environment after it’s association with me. It’s attitude towards me would indicate that it can’t wait to get the hell out, so I have a feeling everything is going to work out okay. Going to take it out now and let it stretch it’s wings again.

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Wednesday Nite Owl Update - the 23rd - Little guy (or gal) seems to be doing well. Ate all the Jackrabbit (not all the Jackrabbit, just what I had filleted out for it) and is now back on hamburger. It seems that I should be giving it something more than meat, like some kind of grains or veggies or something. Kids need a well-balanced diet, don’t they? But it just wants meat. Maybe I could mix vitamins in with the meat. Need to find out these things, ‘cause I want it to grow up big and strong so it can help keep the place clear of rodents.

Discovered that I can handle it with bare hands, it’s talons squeeze just enough to cause a mild pain but don’t puncture the skin, and it’s little jaw muscles are not strong enough to allow it’s beak to dissect me. However, it’s getting stronger everyday. Still hissing but now it’s making chick type noises.

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Wednesday Morn Owl Update - the 30th - Little owl is growing rapidly. Flight feathers on it’s wings are getting longer. It literally appears to grow overnight. Everyday, when I pick it up, it seems larger and heavier. Maybe I’m raising a fat owl that won’t be able to get airborne ‘cause it’ll be over gross. I did some research on the net, and the closest ID I could come up with was the Barn Owl. The Owl Pages were very informative as well as World Owl Trust.

I was wondering how much to feed it and I found out; when it’s had enough - it stops eating. Also discovered that it prefers rabbit. It’ll eat hamburger, but doesn’t seem to care for chicken or fish.

As previously reported, it hisses, does little chick cheeps, makes a sharp clicking sound with it’s tongue, and now the beginnings of the loud “screeee” that the adult makes.


Sunday - 27th ~ OK - I fiqured out that the owl is probably a female. How did I deduce this? I feed it, keep it’s living quarters clean, smother it with attention, rarely molest it - and it still hisses at me and bites and scratches me...

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Tuesday Aft’noon Owl Update - the 22nd - Clemente, son James and I went Jackrabbit hunting last night, and it occurred to me that I should take one home and see if the little owl would eat it. So I did, and it did. Well, it didn’t rip it up - I had to strip some meat off of it and cut it up into bite size pieces and do the spoon trick. At any rate, it is possible that the Jackrabbit population have saved the bull from, what yesterday, was a certain fate, and I am sure he is grateful. The Jackrabbits, however, don’t seem to be that enthusiastic...

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Sunday Baby Owl Update - the 20th - After Dr. TenÚ left last night, I fed the little owl and checked the pool. I took a look at the little winged carnivore as I was walking in the house, and it looked soooo forlorn. I put on my gloves and brought it into the house and set it down on the back of the couch so it could watch TV, or something. It jumped down to the seat, and then to the floor and started walking (like a drunk sailor) around the living room checking out all the nooks and crannies. When I sat down in my easy chair an hour later I noticed it was over in the corner behind another recliner. I woke up about 0300, got up to get a drink of water, and could not find it. I even got Benito up (we had to go out and check on Sweetheart, anyway) and he acted like he had no idea where it was. I saw some down in the guest bedroom, where MJ had been sleeping, and thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, Benito ate the owl!’ On closer inspection, the down appears to have come out of a pillow, probably when MJ had a pillow fight with his sisters. Anyway, at daybreak, I got up and started the search again. No luck. After a cup of java, I sat down at the computer to send out my morning weather report to my web site, and I saw Benito looking under the table (my Mac notebook is currently on the dining room table), and there was the owl. Where it came from I have no idea, ‘cause I had searched the dining room thoroughly. As I write this it is napping in the living room while occassionaly watching the Western Channel - I think it likes Audie Murphy.

Oh, another thing - at the rate this chick is consuming hamburger - I may have to kill the bull and have it ground up. The bull’s future hinges on the price of ground beef when I go to Sam’s Club today...

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I called Dr. TenÚ for advice on the owl. She said put a bowl of water in with it, and tie a string on the food and wave it in front of the baby owl. I tied a string around some hamburger, and sure enough -it attacked! But it tried to take the string, too, so I got a spoon, put a dollop of hamburger in it, waved it in front of the little cannibal - bingo. So far, it’s eaten about 40 pounds of hamburger, and it seems to be getting used to me. When it starts to call me Mama, I’ll know that it has accepted me. Speaking of Mama, I hope she doesn’t find out I’ve got her baby...

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