Two Sooty Owls hatched on August 3 and August 5 at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia. The chicks are being hand-reared for future use in the zoo’s free-flight bird show, which introduces zoo visitors to the wonderful world of birds.
Taronga Zoo Keeper Grey Fisher is caring for the Sooty Owl chicks round-the-clock. In an online diary detailing the chicks’ daily care, Fisher describes waking at 5:00 AM to chop mice to hand-feed the owlets; cleaning up castings regurgitated by the birds; seeing the owls open their eyes for the first time; and watching them learn how to preen their brand-new pinfeathers. Fisher notes that both birds are steadily gaining weight and becoming feistier as they grow.
Sooty Owls are native to southeastern Australia and the forests of New Guinea, where they hunt for small mammals, birds, and insects. As adults, they have distinctively large dark eyes, with a dark gray or sooty black facial disk. Sooty Owls produce a wide range of calls, including one that sounds like a “falling bomb.”
Photo Credits: Taronga Zoo