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Home   Maidstone   News   Article

Life's a hoot for Maidstone animal lover Natasha Welch with Haru the owl who thinks he's human

13 January 2014
by Claire McWethy

Only in Natasha's case, this baby was just 20cm tall - covered in fluff and with a taste for mice.

The 22-year-old, of Balliol Grove, Maidstone, hand-reared Asian brown wood owl Haru in her home for two months and has taken on the role of mum ever since.

Natasha Welch with her pet owl Haru that she hand reared

Natasha Welch with her pet owl Haru that she hand reared

She said: "It was like having a baby. He would wake me up crying and call for food in the middle of the night.

"I would hand feed him 10 chicks and a couple of mice a day and have to be with him when he drank water, otherwise he could drown."

Haru the owl when he was a baby

Haru the owl when he was a baby

Haru slept in a baby's cot at first, but when he got bigger Natasha would often find him hanging off ceiling lights and rolling around the house on her partner's gym ball.

She said: "He's very cheeky, but more than anything he loves watching TV, especially programmes I don't like, so I have to sit in front of tennis, Top Gear and Star Wars with him.

"Over Christmas he watched Madagascar all the way through."

Haru the owl is now seven months old

Haru the owl is now seven months old

The owls, which grow up to 50cm tall, are native to India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and south China. In the wild they live in tropical forests but for Haru, home is now a garden aviary in Kent.

The bird, which was bought from a breeder in Norfolk seven months ago, is now completely dependent on Natasha - calling for her as soon as he hears her car pull up in the drive.

Natasha and Haru are the best of friends

Natasha and Haru are the best of friends

She said: "Hand-rearing baby owls allows them to create an extremely strong bond with you, makes them incredibly tame and comfortable around humans.

"Unlike the saying, owls aren't actually very clever at all. He thinks I'm his mum and that he's a human."

Natasha Welch with Haru when he was a baby

Natasha Welch with Haru when he was a baby

Natasha's love of birds began when she volunteered at a falconry centre in 2012.

After completing a degree in fashion design, she decided to combine her two passions in her own business, Owl About Art.

Haru the owl, with Natasha Welch, stretching his wings

Haru the owl, with Natasha Welch, stretching his wings

Now Haru is the star of her educational arts and crafts classes, joining her touring Kent schools, nurseries, fetes, fairs and children's clubs.

Natasha said: "The most popular is the 'make your own sock' owl workshop. Everyone loves Haru."

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