The discovery has been described by the Secret World Wildlife Rescue (SWWR) in Somerset as “the most unusual disturbance case” this year.
The first of two chicks was discovered by a Glastonbury-goer underneath the Pyramid Stage steps while the group delivered a storming headline set on the Saturday night of the event last month, with the fan aptly calling it Axl – after the band’s legendary frontman Axl Rose.
Axl was transferred to the SWWR after an initial rescue by the RSPCA, but things took a stranger turn when a second owl was found under the stage just 24 hours later. It is thought to the brother of the first owl and has been named Slash – in honour of Guns N’ Roses’ legendary axeman.
SWWR fundraising manager David Plant admitted that the owls “must have been terrified” after two days of decibel-shattering live music from the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Foo Fighters and eventually the band of their namesakes.
“When Guns N’ Roses were playing ‘Welcome to the Jungle’, I’m sure they didn’t realise how close they actually were to wildlife,” he said. “This is possibly the most unusual disturbance case we’ve heard about this year, but it just goes to show the importance of checking your surroundings for wildlife before any activity.”
He added: “The Pyramid Stage frame is left in place all year when Worthy Farm goes back to being a dairy farm. Clearly a pair of little owls thought it would be a great place to make a nest. They are a cavity-nesting species, favouring holes in old trees, but they have been recorded nesting in rabbit holes and take well to man-made nest boxes.”
Plant continued: “The Pyramid Stage frame is left in place all year when Worthy Farm goes back to being a dairy farm. Clearly a pair of little owls thought it would be a great place to make a nest. They are a cavity-nesting species, favouring holes in old trees, but they have been recorded nesting in rabbit holes and take well to man-made nest boxes.”
He went on to explain that the owl’s parents are likely to have “abandoned their nest once festival preparation began”, but said a return to the wild was on the cards.
“We’re hopeful that they won’t be ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’ any time soon, and we’ll be making plans to return them to the wild once they’re old enough, so they’ll get their chance to experience some ‘November Rain’ later in the year.”
Reviewing Guns N’Roses’ Glastonbury set, Rolling Stone UK wrote: “The setlist could have done with some pruning at the front end but a home run of ‘Civil War’ (with Axl in a Ukraine T-shirt), ‘You Could Be Mine’, ‘Sweet Child O Mine’, ‘November Rain’, ‘Patience’ and ‘Nighttrain’ set us up for a mammoth version of ‘Paradise City’, featuring Glasto’s now-regular mystery guest Dave Grohl on guitar. This corner of Somerset will never entirely embrace metal, but GNR almost – almost – won them over.”