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Home » Memories » 1946-1960 » Brian Firth, Olly The Owl – 1958 (3)

Brian Firth, Olly The Owl – 1958 (3)

Brian Firth & Olly the Owl 1958

BF4 – Brian Firth & Olly, 1958.

Title Olly the Owl
Date 1958
Location Guiseley
Written By Brian Firth
Comment Part 3 continued….

“It is now 3 weeks since the incident with the birds attacking Olly, and I am starting to think I have lost his trust forever. He has been really quiet, hasn’t been eating normally and definitely not allowing me to pick him up.

However, just arrived home from school and prepared his food. Whilst I am chopping the lambs heart I can hear Olly becoming more vocal, like he used to do before the attack.
I took the food through and approached the aviary. He suddenly hopped on to the branch next to the door and waited with head bobbing up and down for the door to open.
When I opened the door he didn’t go for the food as I thought he was going to do, he hopped onto my hand, walked up my arm and perched on my shoulder. He started making the little clicking noises that he had done as a baby, then hopped back into the aviary and straight to his food dish. It was almost as though he was saying “OK, I forgive you”.

Over the next few days his appetite returned and the peaceful (but worrying) quiet from the coalhouse became a constant array of different sounds. He slowly became more relaxed when I approached him and he hopped onto my hand without that look of fear. Olly was back.

It was about 3 weeks later when I felt confident enough to take him back into the fields.
This time, my friend from next door, Graham Thewlis, came with me. He was to be the lookout to see if the birds were gathering.

We started where we left off, throwing Olly forward and letting him fly as far as he could.
He could now fly a good distance, almost the width of the field, so Graham went to the far side of the field to wait for him, so that there was always someone close by.
We did see a few birds around but there was no repeat of the attack.

We did the same thing about a week later, only this time Olly flew across the field and swooped up on to a branch. Looking back I should have possibly taken that as a sign that he was ready to be released. However, I hadn’t gone out with the intention of releasing him, I was simply playing with my pet owl, and wanted to take him home with me.

I approached the tree wondering how I can get him down now without frightening him again.
I didn’t have to think for long because as I got closer to the tree he flew down straight onto my outstretched arm. The only problem was that as he landed he gripped my arm really tight to steady himself, and I could feel his claws digging into my skin. I stood there and gritted my teeth, knowing that if I panicked I would frighten him.

When I got home I showed my mum the cuts and scratches on my arm and she caked them with some sort of homemade remedy. It did the trick though, no infections.

A few days later my mum handed me a homemade arm protector. She had cut the arms off one of my dads old jackets, placed one inside the other and stitched them together.
Very crude, but very effective.

Over the next few months I would take Olly into the fields regularly, often followed by a tribe of local kids. They all had strict instructions not to make sudden movements or shout out.
I even started taking the dog, Kell, with us. Fortunately, Kell didn’t think we were playing fetch with Olly, and would just wander off doing his own thing.

By this time it was a common thing for Olly to fly across the field, wait in the trees for us, and then either come back to me or fly over us to the next line of trees and wait.
Whenever I actually called him back he would always immediately fly to me.

We had quite a few occasions when other birds attempted to intimidate him, but he had become quite confident, and aggressive when challenged, and would chase them off.

Then one day, my mum and dad called me into the room. We had a problem.

One of the neighbours had reported me to the police. In those days Owls were not classed as a protected species, but there was concern as to how he was away from his natural environment, and not being treated as a nocturnal bird.

The police officer that had been to see my parents had informed them that he would be returning with an officer from the RSPCA within the next couple of weeks to discuss the options open to us.

It was an agonizing 3 weeks before they came to see us, and it wasn’t good news”.

To be cont………..

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

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