It's a hoot in the garage

SOME people take their dog to work, but garage owner Alec Mayhew takes his snowy owl.The baby bird, called Blossom, has been in residence at the Melton Tyre & Exhaust Centre for the past few weeks.

SOME people take their dog to work, but garage owner Alec Mayhew takes his snowy owl.

The baby bird, called Blossom, has been in residence at the Melton Tyre & Exhaust Centre for the past few weeks.

She has delighted the garage's customers, who have been surprised to see a pair of beady eyes peering down at them when they bring their cars in.

Mr Mayhew, 56, said: "Blossom keeps her eye on me and the lads working in the garage. She's not bothered by the people and cars coming and going, or all the noisy machinery we use here.

"She's quite happy sitting in her box or wandering around outside or sitting by the skips on sunny days."

Blossom, who is seven weeks old, was born in captivity at Mr Mayhew's home in Aldringham, near Aldeburgh, to parents Ewok and Yoda – named after characters from the film Star Wars – who are also pets of his.

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Registered bird keeper Mr Mayhew said: "There were seven eggs laid and five hatched. But after a few days the chicks would disappear. I don't think their mother was feeding them properly.

"I wanted to make sure one would survive so I took Blossom away and hand-reared her. That meant doing it at home and taking her to work."

He added: "Because she's been hand-reared she's very gentle. She doesn't peck or scratch with her sharp talons."

The bird has also proved a big favourite with customers. "They can't believe their eyes when they first see her. But then they return with their cameras or bring their children to see her."

Blossom spends her evenings and weekends lounging around Mr Mayhew's back garden, socialising with his two-year-old grandson, Michael, and the family's pet cats.

Her daily diet can include day-old chicks, rats, mice and quail bought frozen from suppliers who also supply zoos. She's never tempted by titbits from the staff's packed lunches, added Mr Mayhew.

Snowy owls are not native to the British Isles, coming from Scandinavia and the tundra regions of the Arctic.

Mr Mayhew acquired both Ewok and Yoda from a breeder 10 years ago and last year they produced a male offspring, Thorne. He now has a mate, Willow, and Alec is hoping they'll breed next year.

The registered keeper's birds are ringed and on the independent bird register. Breeders are governed by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Blossom's stay at the garage, near Woodbridge, is coming to an end, though. She is already flexing her black and white wings and in a few days she will be ready to take flight.

Mr Mayhew will then teach her to fly and return safely to the huge aviary at Aldringham that she shares with the rest of the snowy family.

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