Workers at the Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary in the German Diocese of Hildesheim need to keep their eyes peeled for unique guests wandering the grounds of the church, which is undergoing restoration works. Now at an age that they are starting to want to use their wings, three young Eurasian eagle-owls have begun taking the 30 meter leap from their nest box, landing at the foot of the tower, where they wander about, wondering what to do next.
A worker found the above owlet on the ground today, a week after another had probably accidentally fallen out of the nest. While the first owlet got hurt in its fall, this second one is displaying natural behaviour, leaving the nest to stretch his or her wings and learn to hunt.
Hildesheim is on the western edge of the Eurasian eagle-owls natural range, which stretches east to Korea and south to Spain, Iran and southern China. In past years, the nest box in the cathedral was used by kestrels, which are far more common. The expectation was that, when it became clear that the box was in use again, that the kestrels had returned. A webcam, which had not been aimed at the nest because of restoration work, was switched on two weeks ago, when the real occupants were discovered: a pair of eagle-owls with three young.
Photo credit: bph