Twin Sooty Owls Ace Training at Taronga Zoo

Sooty two

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. 

Sooty face cu x

Sootys in bin x

Sootys w trainer

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.

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Sooty Owl chicks hatch at the Taronga Zoo


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

Meet National Zoo's Bustard and Burrowing Owl Chicks


The Smithsonian’s National Zoo welcomed two Kori Bustard chicks that hatched June 9 and 10. Keepers are hand-raising the chicks, which increases the likelihood that the chicks will breed successfully once they reach sexual maturity. Hand-rearing has another benefit; several wild birds of prey reside on Zoo grounds, and raising the chicks inside the Bird House eliminates the chance of conflict. The Zoo’s Nutrition department developed a specialized diet that contains pellets, crickets, peas, greens and fruit, and keepers feed the chicks every two hours between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Although the chicks will not be on exhibit until late August, Zoo visitors can see their parents at the Kori Bustard exhibit, located outside of the Bird House.

Chix 2

Also making their summer debut at the Zoo’s Bird House are two Burrowing Owl chicks, hatched on May 24. At first the chicks are helpless and their eyes are closed. By age 2½ weeks, they are able to control their body temperature and begin to emerge from their burrows to beg for food. At 3 weeks old, they begin jumping and flapping their wings, and at 4 weeks, they are able to take short flights. Visitors can easily identify the chicks by their juvenile plumage, which lacks any of the white bars and spots of the adults. Burrowing Owls are one of the smallest owl species in North America. The average adult is 10 inches in length—slightly larger than an American Robin.

Owl 1


Photo Credit: Smithsonian National Zoo

Three Baby Burrowing Owlets Hatched at ZooAmerica


Pennsylvania's ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park has expanded its animal family with the arrival of several new babies. Among them include these hand-raised baby Burrowing Owls that hatched at the end of May. The fertile eggs were brought to ZooAmerica from the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Unlike other owls, burrowing owls are active during the day and nest in the ground. The three Burrowing Owl chicks are currently in a holding area in the Animal Health Center, with plans to introduce two of them to The Great Southwest region in the future. The third owl will reside in the Zoo’s education department for outreach and onsite programming. The Zoo currently has one resident burrowing owl on exhibit. 

Like many zoos, ZooAmerica keeps most newborns off exhibit until the Zoo naturalists determine if the animal has matured enough to be placed on exhibit or sent to another zoo. These animals are kept in the Zoo’s Animal Health Center, where they are monitored and cared for daily. 


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Hüwi the Little Owl Makes a Friend

Turkmenian Eagle owlet (5)

Meet Linton Zoo's newest and fluffiest little addition: a Turkmenian Eagle Owlet named Hüwi, which is Turkmen for “Eagle owl.” When keepers noticed that Hüwi's owl mom, named Rohan, wasn't quite as attentive as she should be, they stepped in to hand-rear the chick. In addition to the human care, the Linton Zoo's gentle resident tabby, Arnie, has also stepped in to befriend the chick, who appears cautiously curious (more on Arnie at the bottom). Weighing just 50 grams (<2 ounces) at birth, three weeks later the chick weighs a healthy, and hefty, full kilo (2.2lbs). 

The Turkmenian Eagle Owl is one of the largest owls in the world, eventually reaching around 4.5kg (10lbs) and is closely related to the slightly larger European Eagle Owl. Sadly, this spectacular bird may now be extinct in its native range in Central Asia. Very few pure bred birds remain in captivity so Hüwi is an invaluable addition to the survival of this species.

Hello you! Arnie the Ginger Tom says hello to his friend

Arnie and Hüwi spot something interesting in the grass. What u looking at!

Both of Hüwi's parents were also hatched at Linton Zoo. Dad, Pip, will be 23 years old this year and Rohan is now 5. Two of last years owlets, Igor and Misha, remain at Linton Zoo and a third brother has gone to live at Woburn Wild Animal Park. 

Turkmenian Eagle owlet (3)

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Meet Burrowing Owlets Linford and Christie


News from the UK's Longleat Safari & Adventure Park: A pair of tiny hand-reared baby Burrowing Owls have taken to using teacups to roost in during the day. The owlets, nicknamed Linford and Christie (as they were hatched in the year of the London Olympics), are being cared for by keeper Jimmy Robinson. 

They hatched at the Hawk Conservancy Trust in Andover six weeks ago in February in an incubator and have had to be hand reared now. “Basically I have had to have them with me 24 hours a day every day and that means taking them home with me in the evening and getting up in the middle of the night to feed them,” Jimmy said, adding, “I spend so much time with them they do look at me as their surrogate mom and will follow me around the house or sit on my shoulder. They also enjoy the security of sitting inside their teacups and like to find small spaces on my bookshelf and in between my DVD collection to snuggle up into."

Found throughout the Americas, the burrowing owl is so named because itlives in underground burrows that have been dug out by small mammals such asprairie dogs and ground squirrels. Unlike most owls they are active during the day.



With keeper
Photo Credit: Longleat Safari & Adventure Park

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Single Snowy Owlet Hatched at Woodland Park Zoo

Owlet CU

Snow is in the forecast at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, WA, with the hatching of a Snowy Owl chick on June 13!  The chick marks the first offspring between the mom, estimated to be 22 years old, and the father, 14 years old. It's gender has not been determined.

“At this time the chick isn’t visible to visitors because the mom is sitting on the nest and providing very good care,” curator Jennifer Pramuk said in a statement from the Zoo. “Our expert zookeepers are monitoring the owlet, which appears to be in good health. It’s growing very quickly, so visitors should be able to spot it in a week or two.” 

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Chick_James Scott
Photo Credit: James Scott

In zoos, the Snowy Owl population experienced a dramatic decline due to West Nile virus, which is spread by infected mosquitoes to birds. Owls and hawks were especially susceptible to the virus, causing acute death. Few zoos have been successful in breeding Snowy Owls within recent years. 

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Meet Caspian, the Eurasian Eagle Owl


The CIncinnati Zoo welcomed a Eurasian Eagle owl chick four weeks ago. Named Caspian, the young Owl could grow to have a wingspan on six feet from tip to tip! Wild Eurasian Eagle Owls are found across Europe, Asia and even in parts of Northern Africa. Their diet consists largely of small mammals, but full grown Eagle owls can prey on larger animals like foxes, and young deer. The Eurasian Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo) is one of the largest owl species in the world.



Photo credits: Connie Lemperle

Baby Owls Grow Better in Groups


Thirteen is turning out to be a lucky number for a group of baby Owls at The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center in Ramona, Calif. Since wild Owls are always raised in groups, having 13 babies together at the center ensures that they have plenty of company while they grow strong enough to be returned to the wild.


Spring always brings an influx of baby critters at the Wildlife Center. The baby Owls’ story is a familiar one: they were brought to the center after they fell from their nests. It is usually best to leave babies on the ground and watch to see if their parents are standing guard nearby. But sometimes well-intentioned people pick the babies up thinking they are in distress, and then they bring them to rescue and rehabilitation groups like the Wildlife Center. In some cases, it is clear that the birds need to be relocated for their own safety; one of the baby Owls at the Wildlife Center came from a nest located in a busy shopping plaza.


“These are perfectly healthy babies that were just in unfortunate circumstances,” says Wildlife Center Director Ali Crumpacker. The crowd of fluffy baby great Horned Owls and Barn Owls all enthusiastically eat a steady diet of specially prepared food at the Wildlife Center. But in the wild, great Horned Owls often prey on the smaller barn owls. That presented a brief dilemma for rehabilitation. “If the barn owls are constantly hearing great Horned Owls, they are constantly in a state of fear,”  Crumpacker said.

Crumpacker reached out to colleagues at a raptor rescue group in Lakeside, Calif. called Sky Hunters. Sky Hunters agreed to take the Barn Owls, and the Wildlife Center, in turn, agreed to take in some of Sky Hunters’ baby great Horned Owls for rehabilitation.


The center has also been raising a trio of baby Red-tailed Hawks (above). All the babies will likely stay at the Wildlife Center for about three months. They’ll grow their all-important wing feathers, then develop their flying muscles in an outdoor flight cage.


“We will make sure that they can maneuver properly,” Crumpacker says, “and then they will be released back into the wild where they belong.”

Photo credits: The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center

Checking in on Linton Zoo's Turkmenian Eagle Owlets


Linton Zoo’s Turkmenian Eagle Owlets are growing up fast. Igor, Yelena and Misha the Turkmenian Eagle Owlets weighed just 50g at hatching, they are now tipping the scales at over 1200g each, quite a difference in just 4 weeks! These 3 bundles of fluff hatched in mid March but were rejected by their inexperienced mother and so were removed for hand-rearing.



Photo credits: Linton Zoo

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