Birds

Julia Clockhouse in The Teaplanter’s Daughter had a goose. I had four tame owls. Our Indian gardener brought me a handful of mud covered fledglings. They had fallen out of their nest in a storm.  I put the little owls in a basket on my bedside table and fed them raw liver whenever they started screeching, which was about every half an hour. After two almost sleepless nights we saw the mother owl flying round the verandah. With much relief I put the basket containing the gluttonous trio on a table out there. Their mother could feed them from now on. I got into bed anticipating a wonderful uninterrupted night. Not a bit of it. The mother flew in and out all night but the babies kept on screeching. In the morning there were decapitated grasshoppers all round the basket. It seemed that the baby owls preferred liver. And there was a fourth baby owl in the basket. The mother had brought another one. The four grew up on our verandah and learnt to fly from the rail, balancing nervously till the mother gave them a push and sent them flying. After that when I went round the garden the owls would sometimes come down from the trees, perch on my shoulder or, because they were bobbing owls, bow to me.

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