Why owl puppets you ask?
is a form of learning in which an animal learns its species identification. Birds do not automatically know what they are when they hatch – they visually imprint on their parents during a critical period of development.
After imprinting, they will identify with that species for life. Some bird species are more susceptible to imprinting than others and owlets are such a bird.
Here at the centre, when working with owlets, human contact is kept to a minimum.
- We keep their enclosure covered
- We provide them with a mirror and soft toy owls so they do not see humans just their own likeness.
- When uncovering them for feeding or handling we wear masks, hats and cloaks to disguise all human features and do not speak at all.
- We hand feed through a puppet so the owlet associates food and care to its own species of owl and not humans.
Once they are self feeding and healthy they are moved into a larger enclosure with a same species foster parent for modelling and further species imprinting. Even then we continue wearing the owl costume when placing food into the enclosure for some time.