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The Bookish Owl – The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski

Owl The Last Wish Andrzej Sapkowski

So, I’m taking a short break from Discworld to indulge in some monster-slaying goodness!

I just started reading The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski (I will never not need to google the spelling of that…), which is the first book in the Polish book series the amazing Witcher video games are based on.

Not only do I adore the games, I also sort of signed up for this LARP event in Poland where I’m going to run around in a castle with a sword for three days, so I thought I would get a bit more into the Witcher lore before then.

(By the way, Artemis’ favorite Witcher character is Philippa Eilhart. I, on the other hand, yelled “Are you kidding me?!” when Iorveth was all, like, ‘follow that owl!’ in Witcher 2…)

 

Owl The Last Wish Andrzej Sapkowski

 

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Artemis the Owl FAQ

Angry owl blanket

 

“I’m not stealing the firewood. Promise.”

I have made a lot of promises to provide more owl content, so I thought I would start out with one big blog post answering the most common questions I get asked if I bring him with me to the local market or pet shop for a day out.

Get ready for Owl FAQ!

“Oh my god, it’s alive?!” 

Believe it or not, a startling number of people seems to believe I walk around with a tiny stuffed owl on my hand and I don’t think I will ever not enjoy seeing them jump when it suddenly turns its head 180 degrees to look at them.

Seriously, it’s the only socially acceptable way I get to scare the crap out of children.

…And yes, he IS alive. He’s just very good at staring contests.

This photo has not been edited. At all. 100% authentic evil.

“What species is he?” 

Also sometimes phrased as “Is it an eagle?” and I still haven’t figured out the logic there.

Artemis is a Burrowing Owl. In the wild, they often live on the prairie in holes in the ground that they will usually steal from prairie dogs. That also means that they have very long legs and short tails, because they spend as much time running as flying (and it’s my biggest regret that I don’t have footage of Artemis running, because it’s hilarious. Like a tiny, feathery Jack Sparrow).

He looks all fierce here, but 5 minutes after this photo was taken, I had to save him from an attacking blackbird.

“Is he fully grown?” 

Yes. This is really as big as he gets.

“How old is he?”

As of writing, Artemis is 6½ years old, having been born in the summer of 2012. I’m just going to answer the next question immediately and say that I’ve been told Burrowing Owls can get to be 15 years in captivity (at most).

He was just three weeks old when I got him and he lived in a cardboard box (a cardboard box that my big dogs were terrified of for a week) until he learned to jump out and I had to put him behind bars.

Bonus fact: Burrowing Owls can jump freakishly high, even before they learn to fly and you WILL end up checking they’re okay every 10 minutes during the night because you heard a crash and you’re convinced they’ve broken every bone in their body.

“What does he eat?” 

Mainly day-old chickens and mice.

Occasionally pepperoni.

“Where does he live?”

In my living room. He’s got a nice big cage where he can fly around and he also gets to fly around the living room when the doors and windows are closed (and I have moved everything I don’t want him crash-landing on).

“But it’s day-time. Isn’t he supposed to be sleeping?” 

Common misconception. While all owls have excellent night sight, and as such will hunt during the night most of the time, not all owls are nocturnal.

Burrowing Owls are diurnal, which you can tell by the yellow eyes. Nocturnal owls have pupils that fill the entire eye, meaning their eyes are completely black and look like portals into the Void.

However, as every friend who has crashed on my couch will attest to, no one told Artemis he is diurnal, because he will keep hooting at you all night if he knows you’re awake.

There’s not even a perch up there…

“How do you suddenly decide to get an owl?” 

A lifelong interest in falconry and a desire to one day become a falconer myself (Artemis is basically my ‘starter bird’) led me to knowing this falconer who one day made the mistake of mentioning that he bred owls and sold the chicks.

“Can you really just keep owls as pets?”

No.

In Denmark, you’re only allowed to keep non-native species that have been bred in captivity, and you need a keeper’s permit (which I have). I have also agreed that the Danish Nature Agency can come visit me at any time and check on the conditions. In some countries, you’re not allowed to keep owls in captivity at all.

Yes, tiny owls might look cute, but you should not even consider getting one if you don’t already know a lot about owls and birds of prey. I can’t say this enough.


I think that answers the most common questions people have. If not, write yours in the comments!

Next owl post will be about why this cute-looking little shuttlecock is really pure evil…

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Waterstones Is Training Delivery Owls. I Wonder If Artemis Can Get a Job?

Apparently Waterstones decided that if they can’t top Amazon in anything else, they will top them in crazy!

I thought it was pretty far-fetched when Amazon announced their new Prime Air program a few days ago, where they intend to deliver packages by drones, but it didn’t brighten up my day as Waterstones response today did.

Clearly, they’re not serious when they say they intend to train an army of owls to deliver books to their costumers, but take a look at the blog post anyway. The FAQ is hilarious!

Q. Isn’t this just what they did in Harry Potter?

A: Yes, this is exactly what they did in Harry Potter. You’re asking that as if this is a bad thing.

Maybe Artemis can get a job. He would have to deliver something small, like book marks, though(he’s tiny!)… Then again, he freaks out every time he sees paper towels, or anything that bears even the slightest resemblance to them, so maybe entrusting mail to him wouldn’t be the best idea…

Owl Knitting
“Did someone say paper towels?!”
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Hawks, Birthdays and Chicken Blood

As it is my birthday, I thought it called for a personal blog instead of my usual observations and thoughts on indie publishing!

One year older, but not the least bit smarter. I’m just as weird and messed up as I was yesterday. Now I’m just covered in blood as well…

That sentence will actually sound less scary after you hear how I spent my day!

Harris Hawk Most people celebrate their birthdays by going out with friends or family… I decided to spend my day together with a falconer and a couple of his Harris Hawks.

As some of you might know, aside from being a writer, I have a dream of one day becoming a falconer and get to work with birds of prey. I have always had a great fascination for those beautiful birds, and it’s a wonder all my books aren’t filled with falcons(I should totally give Selissa a falcon…).

There’s only a few practicing falconers in Denmark, but luckily I live relatively close to one who offers so called ‘Hawk Walks’ where you get to take out one of his Harris Hawks after having been taught the basics of controlling a falconry bird. It’s a fantastic experience, getting to feel how it is to work together with such an amazing hunter.  It’s definitely addictive.

This was the third time I visited this falconer(I have a nice scar as a reminder of the only time I tried to walk with another falconer’s bird) and the first two times I got to fly the bird he usually used for these ‘walks’, called Odin. Since Odin is used to fly to strangers, he is of course very easy to handle and pretty trustful, but apparently he was on ‘vacation’. What a hawk does on vacation, I will never know…

So it was a huge boost of confidence when the falconer let me try handling one of his hunting hawks, Frigg.

The thing about Harris Hawks(And most other birds of prey) is that the males have a milder temper and are easier to handle. The females are not only almost twice as big, they are also less trustful and more eager to kill. And Frigg is a female Harris Hawk, and not only that, a pretty young one in terms of training.

Compared to Odin, this was like working with a completely wild bird. Normally, I’m pretty calm while handling these birds, but usually I have always been able to read their intents. I admit to being kind of nervous when Frigg landed on my glove and didn’t immediately take off again, but instead sat and studied me intensely. Its eyes were wild and unreadable, not calm like the birds I have tried holding before and in that moment I was not quite sure if it wanted to rip into my face instead of simply taking off from my hand. And the talons on this bird were twice as big as the ones on the male hawks, so that didn’t make me feel much more secure…

But despite my nervousness, it was a very special experience to hold this creature. Everyone can hold a bird that just sit calmly on your hand, another thing is to hold one that, though trained, still very wild in its behavior.

Because of Frigg’s more stubborn and untrustworthy manner, we only went for a short walk with her. For the main trip, he bought out another male Harris Hawk, called Bob.

Yep, that’s right. Odin, Frigg… Bob.

Harris HawkAnyway, with Bob, who was much calmer and mild-tempered(Not to mention the fact that his talons weren’t long enough to cut all the way through my hand), I was back in my comfort zone and I found him to be a very pleasant partner as we walked through the fields with the falconer.

Now, we’re coming to the part where my hands are covered in blood and chicken feathers. I still remember the first time I had to reach into a falconer back, knowing that it was filled with chopped-up chickens. Surprisingly, you get used to it very fast. So fast, in fact, that you forget what has been underneath your nails before you bite them later… Yuck.

After that, the walk went relatively unevenful and I didn’t get any new scars to my collection. And I found out that it’s very difficult to drink a juice box with a falconer glove on one hand and the other smeared in blood and feathers. Not to mention an impatient hawk who was annoyed at not getting a juice box as well…

I did get to say hallo to a couple of the falconer’s owls afterwards, though, including a 4 weeks old Eagle Owl who was still covered in silky down. It was so fluffy it was adorable!

I also got the good news that his Burrowing Owls have laid eggs, which means there might soon be a little birdie for me!

Pictures from the trip: