Owl

Snowy Owlets Hatch at Zoo Osnabrück

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In June, keepers at Zoo Osnabrück, in Germany, made the observation that their Snowy Owl was no longer attempting to incubate the three eggs she laid in her nest. Staff removed the eggs, and an incubator took over the work, warming the eggs at 37.5 degrees Celsius. The owlets began emerging from their eggs on July 12, and the youngest hatched on July 14. 

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4_11058299_1152605204766423_9101622692702152741_oPhoto Credits: Zoo Osnabrück

Andreas Wulftange, research associate, said, “I had to feed them four times a day. They cried for attention and craned their beaks, demanding food. You can hear them before you see them.”

Staff are currently attempting to teach them the ways of being a predatory bird. The owlets practice balancing on logs, placed on ground level. For now, they are only able to hop about their aviary, but some flight feathers are starting to emerge on their fuzzy bodies.

Wulftange, a trained falconer, continued, “We want to enable the Snowy Owlets free flight and let them fly over the zoo grounds, so visitors can see how these special birds silently glide through the air and land with pinpoint accuracy.”

The trio will remain in the aviary until they have matured and grown the feathers they need to master flight.

The Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) is a large white owl of the typical owl family. They are native to Arctic regions in North America and Eurasia. Younger owls start with darker plumage, which turns lighter as they mature. Males are mostly white, while adult females have more flecks of gray plumage.

Snowy Owls are highly nomadic and their movements are tied to locating their prey. The powerful bird relies on lemmings and other small rodents for food during the breeding season. At times of low prey density, they may switch to eating juvenile ptarmigan. Like other birds, they swallow their prey whole. Strong stomach juices digest the flesh, while the indigestible bones, teeth, fur, and feathers are compacted into oval pellets that the bird regurgitates 18 to 24 hours after feeding.

Their mating season is in May, and eggs are incubated for about 32 days. The size of the clutch varies, depending on food availability. Only females incubate the eggs. The male provides the female and young with food. Young owls begin to leave the nest around 25 to 26 days after hatching. They are not able to fly until at least 50 days of age. They continue to be fed by the parents for another 5 weeks after they leave the nest.

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Sooty Owl Chick Training for Bird Show

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A very fluffy Lesser Sooty Owl chick has recently joined the Free Flight Bird Show team, at Taronga Zoo. At the moment, he looks more like a ball of fluff than an owl, but soon the nine-week-old male will be fully fledged and ready to fly.

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11160040_919991424730416_4981664247546811123_oPhoto Credits: Taronga Zoo

The chick, named ‘Griffin’, arrived at Taronga from Featherdale Wildlife Park and is being hand-raised by Bird Show Supervisor, Matt Kettle, who says that the chick was a big hit when he started taking him home.

“As soon as I walked in the door with him and set him down in his box, my four year old daughter came up and started telling him a story. At home he stretches out in my lap while I watch TV and I give him a bit of a scratch. While nice for us, this is actually part of his training. This human interaction is important as he’ll be doing encounters and flying in the show one day, so it’s essential that he’s prepared for anything,” said Matt.

Griffin is growing up fast and is already starting to lose his fluffy down feathers. Matt continued, “Like most babies, he spends most of his time sleeping, but he’s starting to explore his surroundings more, and he’s jumping off things getting ready to fly.”

Sooty Owls are Australia’s most nocturnal species of owl, preferring very dark and dense rainforest habitat. Lesser Sooty Owls, like Griffin, are found in Northern Queensland; however, the more common Greater Sooty Owl ranges from Sydney, Victoria and into Papua New Guinea. Despite their wide range of habitat, it is very rare to actually see one of these birds in the wild.

Matt said, “They are very, very secretive birds. They aren’t very common to see. Even people who go out searching for Sooty Owls in Sydney find them very hard to find.”

“That’s why it’s so special for Griffin to be here with us as an ambassador for his species, so people can come in and learn about these stunning owls, which also hunt rats and mice.”

Matt plans to start taking Griffin for walks around the Zoo, to continue his training getting used to people, and the youngster will soon be practicing flying in the Bird Show amphitheater. 

Taronga’s birds have helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for wildlife conservation through encounters at the Bird Show.

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Rescued Owl Ready to Fly

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A rescued Owl is ready to be returned to the wild after receiving expert care at New Zealand’s Wellington Zoo.

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10926824_10152810244493462_9044059940995389830_oPhoto Credit:  Wellington Zoo

The young Morepork Owl was brought to the zoo in early December and cared for in the zoo’s unique Nest Te Kōhanga, a veterinary hospital dedicated to caring for New Zealand’s native fauna.  The little Owl now has his adult feathers and is ready to be released into the big wide world.  For the first two weeks of his release, he’ll live in an outdoor aviary run by a local sanctuary.  A lamp hanging outside the aviary will attract moths, allowing the Owl to practice his hunting skills.  After two weeks, the door will be opened and the Owl can choose to fly away or return for food if needed.

Morepork Owls are New Zealand’s only surviving native Owls, and live only in New Zealand and Tasmania.  They are also known by their Maōri name (Ruru) and Australian name (Boobook), both of which reflect the Owls' two-part calls.  These small owls live in forests and frequent urban parks.  They feed on large invertebrates such as caterpillars, beetles, and moths.  


Zoo Praha Breeds an Endangered Philippine Scops Owl

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Zoo Praha has managed to parent-rear a Philippine Scops Owl chick. The endangered species of owl lives only in the northern part of the Philippines. Prague Zoo actively contributes to its protection in cooperation with the rescue station for owls on the Philippine island of Negros. So far, the sex of the chick is unknown. Currently Zoo Praha has one breeding pair of Philippine Scops Owls. The female came from Luzon Island and the male was reared at Wroclaw Zoo.

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Photo Petr Hamerník, Prague Zoo


Drusillas Celebrates the Owl-rival of Two Cheeky Chicks!

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Two Snowy Owls have hatched at Drusillas Park and have been turning heads at the award winning zoo in East Sussex.

The little hoots were discovered by keepers on June 12th and 14th and are making excellent progress. The chicks are the first to be successfully reared at the zoo in over 15 years and staff are delighted.

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Fluffy and grey, the tiny snow-balls currently bear a greater resemblance to ugly ducklings. However, as new feathers replace the down, the birds will gradually turn lighter and eventually develop the stunning white plumage of their parents. 

In the wild, these beautiful birds inhabit the chilly skies above the Arctic, where temperatures are incredibly low and snow is common. Pairs generally mate for life and build nests at ground level, laying up to 11 eggs at a time.

Proud parents, Zapper and Zephyr were introduced at Drusillas Park in 2008, after winging their way from Drayton Manor and Linton Zoo respectively. Both of them have been looking after the chicks, who are dependent on them for food and care for approximately 7 weeks. 


Breakfast for Three Little Burrowing Owlets

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Three Burrowing Owlets recently hatched at the Sacramento Zoo. These fluffy little ones will grow to weigh anywhere between 4.5-9 ounces, and become 7.5 - 10 inches tall with a wingspan of 21 - 24 inches! Males of this species are slightly heavier and have a longer wingspan than the females, which is not the norm with most owls.

Found in dry, open areas with low vegetation like deserts, grasslands, farms, and even golf courses and vacant lots in urban areas, this species hunts either while on the ground or by swooping down from a perch. They will also catch bugs while in flight. In addition to insects, they eat small mammals and at times supplement their diet with reptiles and amphibians. 

Not so for these chicks at the moment. Keeper Maureen Cleary dedicates herself to diligently feeding each Owlet. First she weighs out the amount of food that is appropriate for them at this weight and age, then patiently feeds them one bite at a time from medical scissors, which mimic a beak, just like their own mother would. The Owlets instinctually know what to do, even when their eyes were closed, as seen in the video below, where the chicks are just six days old. 

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Photo Credit: Mike Owyang

Burrowing Owls are listed as Endangered in Canada and Threatened in Mexico. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) list it as a Bird of Conservation Concern at the national level. At the state level, Burrowing Owls are listed as Endangered in Minnesota, Threatened in Colorado, and as a Species of Concern in Arizona, California, Florida, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming 

In the video below, notice that each chick has a colored dot on their little heads. This is temporary, used so the keeper can distinguish them from each other:

See many more pictures of the Owlets after the fold:

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Phoenix Zoo Receives Unexpected Fuzzball

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For the first time in over a decade, the Phoenix Zoo has a Spectacled Owl chick. The chick was born on February 10th to the zoo's pair of Spectacled Owls. The pair is quite experienced in rearing young having done so six times in the past, albeit not for some time. After over ten years without a baby, and with the female being 20 years old and the male 15, keepers were not sure if the lone egg laid would be fertile.

To the keepers' excitement, on the 10th of February they heard faint vocalizations coming from the nest box and realized they had a chick! However, it would be over a month until they were first able to peer into the nest box when the chick's protective parents were distracted and finally get a glimpse of the newborn. It was not until April 14th, just over two months after hatching, that the chick would fledge and give keepers a good look at their newest addition.

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Photo credits: Amanda Donagi / Phoenix Zoo

The chick has continued to grow since fledging just over a month ago. It is slowly losing its natal fluffy down, replacing it with feathers. It has been observed flying around its exhibit and exploring all of the perches it has to offer. The chick's gender is still unknown and will be determined at its first health examination.

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The Owl and the Runner Duck: Best Pals Take a Nap

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Friendship comes in many forms, and at times can be forged with the most unlikely of companions. This is often true in the animal world, and was proven this week at Kirkleatham Owl Center in Redcar, North East England. Meet ''Chop-suey'' the baby White-crested Runner Duck and ''Larch'' a tiny baby Long-eared Owl. A very odd couple, but the best of pals! 

The two three-week-old babies met at the center, and are now inseparable. Initially there were  a dozen duck eggs in the Center's incubator, but only one hatched, producing little Chop-suey. Although the chick was content with human company, he was not happy being left alone. Larch the Owl had been by himself there so staff put the two together and they instantly snuggled up and fell asleep!

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Photo Credit: Kirkleatham Owl Center

They won't be able stay together for much longer due to their differing needs as they develop," said a spokesperson at the Center, "but while they are still very small we are more than happy for them to enjoy their time together."

Long Eared Owls are a very secretive species, but being hand reared Larch is confident around people, especially with best friend Chop-suey at his side. It is hoped that both will take part in the center's flying displays, although probably not together. Larch will be a fast flyer, while ''Chop Suey'' being a runner Duck is more of a ground bird.

Watch as these two settle in for a snooze on the video below:


Eurasian Eagle Owl Hatched at National Aviary

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On March 13 this Eurasian Eagle Owl hatched at Pittsburgh's National Aviary, the only one of its species hatched at any AZA facility in the past five years. The newly-hatched chick weighed 49.5 grams to start and has developed beautifully, doubling in size in just five days. By one month of age she was standing, walking and stretching her wings, as well as beginning public appearances to serve as an ambassador for her species. DNA testing of the egg verified what the measurements predicted: the owl is a female.

The bird’s parents, named X and Dumbledore, serve as education birds, trained to free fly in shows and perch on a glove for group programs. On September 25, during X's break from performing, she was placed in an exhibit adjacent to Dumbledore for a two-month howdy period. They were introduced, and breeding behaviors were seen within six weeks of pairing. A total of three eggs were laid every other day, the first on February 7. Shortly before hatching, the fertile egg was removed from the nest to complete incubation for hand-rearing. Click HERE to read all the details of the fascinating hatching and rearing process. 

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Photo Credit: National Aviary

Eurasian Eagle-owls are the largest species of owl in the world and are found in North Africa, Europe, Asia and Middle East. Females, on average, are one third larger than the male. Males weigh 4- 5 ½ pounds, while a larger female can weigh close to 7 pounds. Their height ranges from 2 to 2 ½ feet tall, with a wingspan of approximately 5 ½ feet. 

See the owl on it's first TV show. Story and pictures continue after the jump:

The first television outing for the owlette was an appearance on Pittsburgh Today Live, where it perched for the first time. The baby did a great job educating people about the species, but all the activity brought on a little nap. 

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Twin Sooty Owls Ace Training at Taronga Zoo

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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. 

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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:

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