Please join us on Facebook

Aireborough Historical Society

Contact AHS

Aireborough Historical Society

Contact AHS
Home » Memories » 1946-1960 » Brian Firth, Olly The Owl – 1958 (2)

Brian Firth, Olly The Owl – 1958 (2)

Brian Firth & Olly the Owl 1958

BF2 – Brian Firth & Olly, 1958.

Title Olly the Owl
Date 1958
Location Guiseley
Written By Brian Firth
Comment Part 2 continued…..

“The day has arrived, its time to take Olly into the fields and teach him to fly.

We lived on the original part of Coppice Wood Avenue, prior to the Yeadon half being built.
I intended to take Olly into the fields where Coppice Wood Crescent is now located.
The fields went from the beck, which is the border of Guiseley and Yeadon, right up over Yeadon Banks to Haw Lane, or you could go right over to Otley Chevin, so there was plenty of open area to take him to.

I knew that most owls were nocturnal, but I had to be careful. If he suddenly flew off a short distance, I may not be able to find him in the dark, and he would become easy prey for any foxes or dogs in the area.

I had it all planned. I would go just before dusk, and only stay out an hour.
I would start by simply moving my arm up and down and see if he would fly off.
I could run across the field and see if he would leave my arm. I didn’t want to climb a tree and drop him, as he might drop like a rock.
I decided to leave Kell (the dog) at home. If Olly flew off I didn’t want Kell to think we were playing ‘fetch’.

So, as daylight faded, I put Olly in his box and set off into the fields.
There was no-one around and it was deadly quiet.
A row of trees and bushes ran up towards Yeadon Banks, separating the 2 adjoining fields.
I stayed away from them just in case he flew up onto a branch, out of reach. I needed to be sure that he was capable of surviving on his own before taking the risk of him flying off.

As I lifted him out of his box his eyes were darting everywhere, and his head was bobbing up and down.

At first, I just sat on the grass with him on my arm, as I had done many times on our side lawn. He was really inquisitive, turning and looking up and down the field, not at all worried.

Then I stood up and started moving my arm up and down. That didn’t work, as he simply dug his claws into my jumper, flapped his wings to retain his balance, and stayed put.
So I ran slowly across the field and eventually he let go, but only to flutter to the ground behind me. Now he was starting to look agitated so I sat down again until he seemed more relaxed.

The next idea was to gently throw him in the air, maybe 3 or 4 foot from the ground, and see what happened. It worked, in as far as he flew back to the ground about 3 yards from where we were. He seemed fine with it, so we continued a little longer, and each time he was going just a bit farther before landing.

I let him rest for a while and then thought we will just have one more go, then call it a day.

Then it happened!!!.”

Brian Firth & Olly the Owl 1958

BF3 – Brian Firth & Olly, 1958.

“I am now in the fields just off Coppice Wood Avenue, in the area now known as Coppice Wood Crescent.

This is my first attempt to learn Olly how to fly.
His mum would have flown across the field with him, demonstrating the art of flying. I had to come up with other idea`s.
With Olly on my arm I had tried waving my arm up and down, tried running across the field, all to no avail. I had then discovered that I could throw him lightly into the air, only 3 or 4 feet from the ground, and he was making progress in that he would fly to the ground a few feet farther away each time.

He was starting to get tired so I thought ‘one more go’ and we will call it a day.
It wasn’t dark yet, neither was it too bright for him.

So, up in the air he went, a bit higher this time, and off he flew, landing about 40 or 50 feet away from me. By far the best he had done.

Then suddenly a mass of birds, all types of birds, descended on Olly and started attacking him. They must have been gathering in the nearby trees. It was like a scene from the film ‘Birds’.
I didn`t actually think that at the time, because the film hadn`t been made yet.
He was trying to flap his wings and get away, but he was almost smothered by them.
I ran forward waving my arms and literally screaming at the birds to frighten them away.
The birds flew off but then I saw Olly staring at me. He was terrified, not of the birds, but of this lunatic that was running at him, waving and screaming.
As I bent down to pick him up he was struggling and pecking at my hands, his eyes were wide and his chest was heaving. It was the first time he had ever shown any fear of me and I was sobbing my heart out. What have I done, what an idiot I was.

I eventually managed to fold his wings closed and place him back in his box.

I went straight home and put him back in his aviary.

He was deadly quiet the whole evening and my mum warned me that it might have caused too much stress on his heart. I must have gone downstairs 2 or 3 times during the night to make sure he was still alive.

Next morning I went to feed him. He always hopped over to the branch next to the aviary door where I placed his food. This time, he dropped to the floor of the aviary and went over to the far corner, and just sat there staring at me. When I opened the door to place his food in he went berserk, fluttering around and squawking like mad. I tried to stroke him to calm him down, but he was absolutely terrified.

My mum told me just to leave his food there and give him a few hours to settle down.
Those few hours turned into 2 or 3 weeks before I slowly regained his trust. He wasn`t enjoying his food like he used to and I couldn`t take him out onto the side lawn because he wouldn`t let me pick him up.

After 3 weeks of worrying that I had forever lost his trust I opened the aviary door to feed him, and he took me by total surprise.”

To be cont………..

<< Page 1 Page 3 >>

Consolidated by Jack Brayshaw. 23 August 2022.
Last updated: 23 August 2022.

Leave a comment