A Barn Owl ( Tyto alba).
While these owls are fairly common in this area, it was quite extraordinary to see one so close. We sat and watched the owl for a while and it soon became accustomed to the fact that it had an audience, so much so that it even started hoping around on the chairs at the boma, until it ended up in the baby high chair at the dinner table. Where he ate all the left over cheese from babies dinner.
It was a marvellous experience for our birders and non-birders alike. The barn Owl stayed for about 10 min and then carried on as if nothing happened.
Barn owls would normally avoid human confrontation as far as possible. But as later discovered this was no ordinary Barn Owl. He was actually hand reared by one of the rangers on the reserve. Barn Owls often nest in man-made structures : lofts, roofs, water towers, and nesting boxes etc. They lay clutches of eggs between 3-6. But unfortunately all the young do not survive.
So when a nest with 3 chicks where found two rangers thought it best to take two of the three chicks out and hand rear them. The barn owl was raised in such a manner that he could be re-release into the wild and fend for himself. And the reason we had him at the lodge that night was that he was out on his own for the first time the big African Bush.
We saw him a couple of nights after that and we found a couple of his pellets( a regurgitated mass of undigestable matter such as fur, bones, feathers and insect parts)_ which means that he is feeding and adapting in the bush.