I've just got back from driving over to Wiltshire to see Jill and Bop. He is now feeding himself (3 mice in the morning and 3 or 4 in the afternoon) and Jill thinks he will be OK (although with all wild things you never say never). It will take him longer to become independent because he's not being reared by his parents and he needs to learn how to be an Owl.
Jill reckons he is about four and a half weeks old and if he were in the wild he'd be hopping about in trees and trying to catch his own food now, instead of sleeping in a basket being fed already caught and dead mice. Time will tell, we'll keep everything crossed for him, eh? All that focused good will must count for something....
He was very sleepy, this being his night time, and although he came out of his basket for a few seconds, soon decided that actually he'd rather be inside it and asleep, so he hopped back in, settled down and watched me with his eyes first blinking and then drooping. He has definitely grown and now has his adult wing tip and tail feathers and is starting to fly in small goes, which is All Good. I experienced an almost unbearable urge to bring him home with me, which I resisted. It was hard.
Jill was telling me that she'd had two more baby Tawnys brought in last week- these were only a day old and had fallen a long way off some bales. One died on Sunday and the other yesterday. It is so hard with wild creatures. She's also had several hedgehogs in who have also died. But on the positive side, she showed me some photos of a Tawny she raised a couple of years ago who fledged successfully back to the wild. He would sit in her kitchen and stare out the window with her cat on a chair behind him- the Owl and the Pussycat....
Anyway, I didn't want to disturb Bop, so I admired him for a few more seconds, told him he was beautiful and that I loved him and would pray for him to grow up Big And Strong And Safe and turn back into A Real Wild Owl when the time was right, then I took some photos for all of you to enjoy (and us too) before leaving him to his nap. I will check in on him again in a week or so and let you all know how he is.
Keep your fingers crossed for him.