Taronga Zoo has got a new pair of Sooty Owlets that are charming those who have seen them. The chicks arrived at the zoo in August and have grown tremendously since then. From tiny, almost down-less chicks, they are now really beginning to look like owls, developing their distinctive heart shaped faces-- and showing individual personalities too.
At the QBE Free-flight Bird Show, Grey, their trainer, has been raising the pair of chicks to be ambassadors for their wild cousins, but they’re already capturing the imagination of those lucky enough to see them behind-the-scenes.
Photo credit: Lorinda Taylor
Also known as the Greater Sooty Owl, this bird is largely found in south-eastern Australia, the rain forests of New Guinea. The females are lighter colored than the males, and larger, measuring 14.5-17 inches (37-43 cm) long and weighing 1.6-2.2 pounds (750-1000 gm); whiile the males length is about the same, they weigh only 1.1-1.5 pounds (500-700 gm). Both have a wingspan of almost 12-16 inches (30-40 cm).
They get their name from the dark gray silver or sooty black feathering on their faces with a heavy black edge. The upper part of the owl is black to dark gray and the under part is lighter, with spots on their wing feathers. The tail is short and the legs are feathered large black talons.
Their call is a piercing shriek which can last up to two seconds. They are nocturnal and hide in hollow tree trunks, caves and in tall trees with heavy foliage.
See more pictures of the Sooty Owlets after the fold: