Two little owls were born at the Château des Milandes, in Dordogne

Two little owls were born at the Château des Milandes, in Dordogne
Two little owls were born at the Château des Milandes, in Dordogne

If it weren’t for the claws and big yellow eyes staring at you, they could easily be mistaken for two stuffed animals. The small African eagle owls are the latest born among the birds of prey at the Château des Milandes, in Castelnaud-la-Chapelle (Dordogne).

If their birth was hoped for, it was not expected so quickly, in April. “We lost an African eagle owl this winter,” explains Steeve Paille, the falconer. He died of old age. So, we picked up a couple who had come from another park hoping to have a brood. »

Daily attention

Usually, raptors are quite homebodies, they take time to get used to a new environment and therefore to reproduce. A priori, the breeding couple feels good at Milandes, since, as soon as they arrived, they mated.

Almost a month after laying, these two little ones were born. A priori, a male and a female. “Among raptors, the male is lighter than the female,” explains the falconer. On average, a third less. That’s why they’re called tierlets. As for the females, they are forms. »

“They don’t stand up on their legs yet, or not for long”

Indeed, one of the two little ones is bigger than the other. “But, for the moment, that doesn’t mean anything,” smiles Steeve Paille. There may be smaller females and larger males. » The noise from the work does not seem to bother the chicks. Logically, they will have to participate in the raptor shows organized by the site. And, to get them used to it, the team of falconers handles them daily. For the moment, they are transported in a crate, almost everywhere. “They don’t stand up on their legs yet, or not for long,” says the trainer.

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The falconers pamper them

Today, it is the falconers who have taken the place of the parents. Fed by man, the young, now 1 month old, become accustomed to human presence. “Every day, after the show, we take them out in front of the public, in order to desensitize them,” explains the falconer. This way, when they are released into the wild, they will not get scared. »

There is still some room to go before we see them flying over the space dedicated to shows. “When they stand up, we will start to take them on the glove,” continues Steeve Paille. By giving them food. If there is no reward, they don’t come. In nature, we don’t move for nothing. »

Ready for the end of the season?

Then, little by little, they will learn to leave and then return to their falconer’s arm. “Being optimistic, we can think that they will be ready to perform their first shows at the end of the season,” hopes the trainer. Don’t be fooled by their chubby appearance. As an adult, the African eagle owl weighs only 500 to 600 grams for males and 700 to 800 grams for females.

Although the Milandes wanted a bird to replace theirs, the two brothers will stay here. They are not the only ones born this year. As a reminder, the site participates in programs to reintroduce species into the wild. This is the case for Ural owls and even white-tailed eagles.

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