Category: Weird Articles
Published on Friday, 07 March 2014 00:00
Bertie is not like any of the other regular owls you see out there. While other owls soar through the night enjoying the feeling of the wind beneath their wings, this three-year-old tawny owl loves nothing more than staying at home and helping his owner make a cup of tea. In fact, he is actually afraid of venturing outside and probably thinks of himself as a human rather than a bird.
This little feathered cutie shares a farmhouse with his owner Peter Middleton, and after his daily baths, he likes to dry his feathers by sitting on top of the kitchen counter. When Bertie is not welcoming guests with a happy hoot or lovingly preening them on the sofa, he is diligently hard at work at shredding letters in Peter's office.
Peter said that the domesticated owl, which he adopted after Bertie was found abandoned as a baby, hates the outdoors.
“He just doesn’t like going outside, I think it is agoraphobic. He’s not used it and he’s very comfortable in the house,” Peter remarked. “He’s been here for over three years and it totally and utterly domesticated now, bless him. Bertie wouldn’t last a couple of days out there.”
56-year-old Peter is an organic farmer in Northumberland, North East England who also runs Trewitley Owl Trust, a charity which looks after 50 rescued owls, so rest assure that he definitely knows what he is doing.
Bertie came to Peter from the local vets. “He arrived as a forlorn mud-covered chick with infection feet. He was in a very sorry state,” Peter recalled. “He spent the first two months of his life being cared for by the vets. He was just a tiny tennis ball-sized piece of fluff. He was becoming a bit of a liability as he was flying around, standing on top of the doors and watching everybody.”
When Bertie was first placed in Peter's care, Peter put him in an aviary separate from other owls, but Bertie was not too pleased with the arrangement.
“He was agitated and didn’t like it so I go a big dog’s cage on my back porch and put him inside there. He has a lovely view out of the window and hoots when anyone arrives. It is a bit like having a guard dog”, he said.
Peter's sister ho visits the farm often is always welcomed by Bertie with a special hoot reserved just for her.
“He’s very sweet actually, he’s a very gentle little bird,” Peter said.
“He likes his house and as far as he is concerned the farm is his home. The only thing that scares him is when there are helicopters flying above – he gets a bit frightened.”
Part of Bertie's daily activities include having a bath in a dog's bowl and then drying himself on top of the stove which is covered with a mat, Peter explained. His diet consists of day-old chicks and mice.
“He does what owls do best, he looks around, sleeps, eats and has a bath. He dries and preens himself on top of the aga – on top of the mat – because it is nice and warm for him. He has it all worked out,” Peter said.
Bertie, who should live for another 15 years, resides in the farm with a pet raven (which he has not yet met), and three dogs.
“He doesn’t come into contact with other owls and I don’t allow the pet raven to meet him as he’s very territorial and likes to be the center of attention,” Peter explained.
“Bertie is such a self-contained little animal, he stands on the back of the sofa and if anybody sitting on it, he will walk along and preen their hair. He likes to have contact with people.”
“He hoots at the dogs when we let them out but otherwise he ignores them.”
When Bertie is not busy with his bath or mealtimes, he follows Peter everywhere he goes which is predominantly his office.
Peter said: “He likes my office and either sits on my shoulder or sits on the windowsill and that way he has a lovely view onto open fields.”
“We often say how privileged we are to have him, he’s so gentle, you could trust him with a small child. Bertie is a wonderful animal.”
“He likes preening himself and he loves paper. He makes a mess in the office in no time by shredding paper. He’s also fascinated by glittery pencils,” he added.
“Owls by nature are fairly sedentary, Bertie is incredibly content sitting and watching the world go by.”