Sunday, 29 September 2013


Jack now has a homework box and this weekend it contained one homework. Jack is less thank thrilled with the idea of having even more work to do at home, we make him practice reading and math.
The homework assignment is for him to write some information about owls.

Jack flying a Harris Hawk
Jack was a little apprehensive about this assignment until he spoke to us about it. Then we reminded him of the many photos we have.

As a family we know a lot about birds of prey. We've seen all types of birds and are quite well versed on their strengths of weaknesses. As a family we know lots of specialist facts about raptors, for instance an owl will have eye colour to match it's most active times, owls with black eyes are nocturnal, yellow means active during the daytime (diurnal) and orange for dawn and dusk (crepuscular). They have very little control over their feet, they can basically grab on to something and that's it. This creates a problem known among falconers as sticky feet, where when the bird is taking flight its feet don't always let go properly right away and the bird sticks to the branch or glove for a moment. Owls also can't move their eyes.
Orange eyes.

Just like dogs, different species of raptor have different personalities. Eagles seem to be quite stubborn and grumpy. They only like one person to fly them and they generally don't like that very much. I saw a golden eagle boycotting her perch at the end of a flying session during which his falconer had with withheld the rewards due to a poor performance. Vultures can be quite thuggish. Every time we see a vulture we hear about how it's recently been beaten up by another (usually a female).

We've seen an eagle that liked to be scratched just so on the back of his head, (birds don't normally like to be touched) and a condor that moulted only the feathers on one side rendering himself completely flightless. We met a snowy owl who had a real crush on one of the falconers who looked strangely like Daniel Radcliffe and a Lappet-Faced Vulture that turns his face pink with excitement at the mere sight of a particular falconer.

We probably go to four or five raptor displays a year.

For quite a while we were considering acquiring our own raptor but decided against it in the end.

So after some reminiscing Jack and I jotted down three facts and popped in pictures of his favourite owl, the Northern White Faced who has the most amazing defence mechanism ever. Jack received an extra point for his work.

I don't need your stupid perch.

A melanistic Barn Owl, one of the rarest birds in the world.

Little did Jack know, that owl just pooed on him

The Northern White Faced Owl.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Bird and bee related questions

Jack has been asking a particular question lately. He's doesn't like not having his questions answered completely and often repeatedly, he's also to smart now to know when he's not being given a proper answer. So when he asked Helen about where babies really come from she told him that she wanted to speak to me before giving him an answer, he was pretty annoyed.

I was surprised at just how strongly I felt about this particular situation. The liberal part of me says just tell him, if he's old enough to ask then he's old enough to know and he's too young to really understand anyway but with all the talk recently of the 'loss of innocence' I find myself on the fence. Whether or not he understands I'd still rather he remain totally unaware for at least a couple more years. He's got lots of other things to learn about first.

So after some soul searching, we did a little research and purchased a book. It's basically the answer to the question from a child's perspective with matching illustration. I had a look over the book before reading it to Jack and generally I have to say that it was alright. There's only one page in the middle that I don't quite approve of (a space hopper in involved) but we gloss over that page.

I'm still not entirely comfortable with the idea but I'm getting there. Jack was happy with the answer the book provided and hasn't enquired about it again.

The book is titled 'Mommy Laid an Egg' by Babette Cole and has apparently been banned in some places.