We look a right couple of mugs! Meet Linford and Christie, the orphaned baby owls having a hoot in their new home
By Nick Enoch
It’s not the usual thing you’d expect to find in a kitchen – but these orphaned baby owls seemed right at home as they nestled in two cups.
The feathered pair were clearly having a hoot after moving into the home of their wildlife park keeper, Jimmy Robinson.
The six-week-old burrowing owlets, nicknamed Linford and Christie, were hatched in an incubator, and are now being hand-reared by Jimmy – who works at Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire – and are given 24-hour care.
He named the birds after the former Olympic gold medallist in honour of this year’s Games being held in London (where Linford Christie is coaching some of the athletes).
Fortunately, the native American birds can find plenty of nooks and crannies around his one-bedroom flat to hide, and Jimmy has to keep a keen eye on the tiny creatures as they try to blend in.
The pair seek refuge in plenty of weird and wonderful places including tea cups in the kitchen, bookcases and the dog basket of his Saluki, ‘JT’.
Jimmy, 25, said: ‘As I spend so much time with them, they do look at me as their surrogate mum and will follow me around the house or sit on my shoulder.
‘They also enjoy the security of sitting inside their teacups and sugar bowls and like to find small spaces on my bookshelf and in between my DVD collection to snuggle up into.
‘Basically, I have had to have them with me 24 hours a day, every day, and that means taking them home with me in the evening and getting up in the middle of the night to feed them. They always seem to find me at meal times.
A friend in kneed: Longleat keeper Jimmy Robinson is looking after the two furry critters; right, even Jimmy’s Saluki ‘JT’ keeps an eye on the inquisitive owlets
‘Although they are small birds, they do grow incredibly quickly. They will be fully fledged within the next month, their feathers are coming through nicely and they are already getting used to flapping their wings.’
The owls were hatched at the Hawk Conservancy Trust in Andover, Hampshire, in February.
Jimmy, who feeds Linford and Christie with mice and bits of chicken, takes them to work with him in a large lunchbox every day.
The pair will eventually join a variety of birds of prey including vultures, eagles, hawks, kites, owls and falcons in the ‘Hunters of the Sky’ attraction at Longleat.
In their natural habitat, the birds make their nests underground in small burrows that have been abandoned by animals such as prairie dogs and badgers.
The burrowing owl grows to around 10 inches in length and has a wingspan of 21 inches. The small, long-legged species is usually found in the dry, open areas of North and South America.
Unlike their nocturnal relatives, these owls tend to be at their most active during day-light hours. They hunt for food from dusk to dawn and their diet consists mainly of insects and small rodents.
They are preyed on by badgers, coyotes and snakes as well as cats and dogs. The burrowing owl lives for around nine years in the wild but can survive for more than ten in captivity.