We put the chick back into the nest, but he fell out again. Since we were heading back to Bangalore the next day and no one would be in the house, we decided to take him with us.
A BEARDED BABY
The chick was almost adult-size. His wings were fully formed and he had a white beard, which he would fluff up and look at us when he was nervous. He didn’t like being held and protested by clicking his beak and screeching. We named him Bob!
It took Bob a day or two to settle down. He was fed three times a day. After breakfast, we would put him in a cardboard box to sleep (since owls are nocturnal). In the evening he would be let free in the dining room to strengthen his wings. One of his favourite perches was the ceiling fan, which we made sure was always off!
A week passed and Bob made it clear that he didn’t like being put in a box. So he was given the guest bathroom by day and the guest bedroom at night. He seemed to enjoy all his meals and ate with a blissful look on his face, always gentle when perching on my hand.
The plan was to release him in Bandipur but first he had to learn to catch and eat insects on his own. Meanwhile something interesting was happening outside our home. Three Spotted Owlets (possibly Mama, Papa and chick) made the teak trees outside our gate their home.