By James Somper
A wise owl has formed an unlikely friendship with two dogs and even swoops down from its perch to play with them.
Stardust, a two-year-old barn owl has become best mates with three-year-old Sam, a beagle and six-year-old collie cross Fergus.
The bond between them is so strong that owner Claire Stafford, 40, says that Stardust frequently swoops from on high to land on the unsuspecting dogs as they sleep.
The nursery nurse from Warrington, Cheshire, said: “They’ve all grown up with one another and are brilliant together. Stardust has been hand reared so isn’t scared of humans.
“It’s certainly a curious and unexpected friendship to develop.
“We got Stardust as a three-week-old chick so she’s basically been brought up with both of them.
“Barn owls aren’t easy to look after and beagles are quite naughty but for some reason they all get on like a house on fire.
“When Stardust was ill and had to have syringe food Sam licked it off her face to clean her up, it was very sweet to see”.
Stardust lives in an aviary opposite the home that Claire shares with Fergus and Sam and her husband Paul, 45.
Claire said that her two furry companions are so relaxed and friendly towards their owlish neighbour that she frequently lets Stardust fly into the house.
She said: “Stardust lives in the aviary outside but comes into the house and I’ll let her have a fly around.
“As Sam has got older they’ve got really close. She’ll fly down and sit down near both dogs and try and land on them.
“If we’re outside with them and Stardust sees their tales wagging she’ll fly down and try and bite them.
“Stardust is quite cheeky, she has got attitude she’ll look at you in a funny way sometimes like she’s trying to challenge you.
“She’ll watch you approach her to pick her up and fly off at the last minute. She’ll try and play games with you and fly off.
“Sam is a typical beagle, he’s very food driven and will try and grab food whenever possible.”
Claire added that she’s sure the trio will continue their happy friendship as the years roll by.
She said: “I hope they grow old together, it’s just so lovely to see them so happy.”