A little over a week ago, Abilene Zoo began caring for an orphaned Great Horned owlet. The goal at that point was to help the chick develop with as little human contact as possible.
The Chick is now being raised by Abilene's resident great horned owl, Einstein. This will allow Abilene to stay hands off and may lead to the release of this chick back into the wild skies of Texas once it has fledged.
It’s a busy time of year at Sydney’s Taronga Wildlife Hospital. The Taronga Veterinary Team have received an influx of native wildlife requiring care, treatment and rehabilitation. One such patient is a boobook owl chick that was found on the ground in Dearin Reserve, Newport.
The little owl was in good health when it was spotted by a member of the public a few weeks ago, who then alerted a local wildlife rescue organisation. Because the owl was on its own and too young to care for and feed itself it was brought to Taronga Wildlife Hospital.
He grew up in Schönbrunn Zoo, but his future home will be the Lower Austrian forests. A small owl that hatched in the Vienna Zoo on March 25th has now embarked on a great adventure. In an aviary in the middle of the Dürrenstein wilderness area, he is being prepared for his life in the wild. “The Ural Owl was exterminated around 150 years ago in Austria. We have been poaching the offspring from zoos and bird stations since 2009. This is an extremely important cooperation. Together we keep this endangered owl in human care and ensure that the Ural Owl returns to our local forests in the long term, ”explains Richard Zink from the Austrian Ornithological Institute of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna. Since the start of the project, 41 owls have been who hatched in the Schönbrunn Zoo, were relocated. There are now 30 breeding pairs in Austria's forests.
Iris Starnberger, research assistant at the zoo: “If we protect the Ural Owl and its forests, we also protect many other, lesser-known species, such as the white-backed woodpecker and the hazel grouse. The owl needs old trees to nest. In areas where these are rare, nest boxes are installed. We are proud to finance the production, assembly and annual inspection of 15 pieces. ”In Schönbrunn, a new aviary for owls was only opened in February. The young breeding pair that moved in here successfully raised offspring in the first year. In the next few weeks your young animal will be flying through the forest. Initially, it will remain near the release site and will be fed. By autumn the little owl will develop into a successful mouse hunter and then live independently. However, a ring on the foot ensures that the project team members can always be identified as “Schönbrunn” owls.
Each year, Marwell Wildlife, which owns and operates Marwell Zoo, keeps watch on Barn Owl nests on the lands surrounding the zoo. So far this summer, they’ve discovered six healthy chicks on the property.
The six fluffy Owlets come from two breeding pairs and include three females and three males between five and seven weeks old.
Photo Credit: Marwell Wildlife
Once found, the chicks were carefully removed from the nest for a thorough exam. The staff recorded the weight, wing feather development, body condition, and wing length, as well as noting any unique markings, which help to determine each chick’s age and gender.
The Owlets were then banded by placing a metal ring on the ankles, which will identify each Owl if it is captured in the future. The chicks were then safely returned to their nest boxes.
Marwell has successfully supported 16 Owlets since 2014, when it started working with the South Downs National Park Authority and the Hawk Conservancy Trust to monitor Barn Owl populations within the local landscape as part of the Barn Owl Box scheme (Project BOB). The project records the breeding success and aims to understand the survival and wider movements of Barn Owls.
As part of Marwell’s ongoing commitment to restore habitats, the charity manages more than 100 acres of grassland to create an ideal hunting habitat for this important farmland bird. No pesticides or fertilizers are used on the land. Voles, Shrews, and Mice thrive in this habitat, providing ample food for the Owl families. A single Barn Owl typically eats three to four prey items each night.
Barn Owls live on every continent except Antarctica. The Barn Owl’s heart-shaped face, or ‘facial disk’, collects and directs sound toward the inner ears, which are situated inside the facial disk just behind the eyes. As a result, Barn Owls’ hearing is the most sensitive of any animal ever tested. Owlets develop rapidly. By three weeks of age, they can swallow a whole Shrew or small Mouse. At eight to nine weeks, they begin taking practice flights. At 13 to 14 weeks old, Owlets have reached adult size and leave the nest to find their own home range.
Back in April, an egg barely the size of a ping-pong ball arrived at the Woodland Park Zoo from the Sacramento Zoo, where its parents were not able to incubate it.
On April 17, a feisty little Burrowing Owl chick pipped its way out of that egg. The chick, a male, was named Papú. His name, which is pronounced like paw-POO, with emphasis on the second syllable, means “Burrowing Owl” in the dialect of the Yakama tribes of eastern Washington. Little Papú, who also goes by the nickname Pippin, was at hatching barely a few inches long, covered in white downy plumage, and his eyes were not open yet.
Because Papú will be reared by his keepers, it was decided that he will become an ambassador animal at the Woodland Park Zoo. In this very important role, Papú will meet zoo guests to help build a strong connection between people and wildlife. Right away, Papú captured the hearts of the animal keepers who will feed him, raise him, train with him throughout his life, and generally just let him become his best little Owl-self.
Papú is now nearly two months old and already adult-size, although he still has some of the downy plumage of a chick. Most baby birds are the same size as their parents by the time they’re ready to leave the nest—and Papú is just at that age. Adult feathers, which are mottled brown and white, are already starting to grow in, including those all-important flight feathers.
At this point, his flights are limited to practice take-offs and soft, but not always graceful, landings on his keepers’ laps or the ground. Within another week or so, he will probably take his first real flight, and by early autumn Papú will have his adult plumage and his eyes and beak will start turning yellow.
Burrowing Owls are small, long-legged Owls found throughout open landscapes of North and South America. These tiny predators—they’re only 8 to 11 inches tall and weigh between 5 to 8 ounces when fully grown—can be found in grasslands, rangelands and throughout the Great Plains.
They nest and roost in underground burrows that might have been dug out by prairie dogs or ground squirrels, although they can create their own burrows if needed. Unlike most Owls, Burrowing Owls are active day or night hunting for beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, mice and small lizards. The Burrowing Owl is endangered in Canada and threatened in Mexico. Although still common in much of the U.S., its population numbers are in decline and they are listed as threatened in several states due to the eradication of prairie dogs and loss of habitat.
See more photos below, including several of Papú right after he hatched.
Northern Spotted Owls are one of the rarest birds in Canada, with only about 30 individuals remaining in the country. That’s why the Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program is thrilled to announce the successful hatching and release of a Northern Spotted Owl chick to foster parents at the facility.
Researchers collected and incubated an egg which had been laid on March 11. Nicknamed “Egg B,” the egg was monitored closely over the 32-day incubation period. The chick took 85 hours to break out of its egg, emerging on April 15.
Photo Credit: Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program
Staff at the Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program hand-reared the chick, now referred to as “Chick B,” for the first 10 days of its life to increase the chick’s chances of survival. The chick remained safe and warm, with constant care from staff 24 hours a day. The chick’s specific nutrition and temperature requirements were met as it grew and developed over the 10-day period. Owlets lack the ability to regulate their own body temperature.
After 10 days of round-the-clock care, Chick B was placed in the nest of an experienced Northern Spotted Owl pair named Scud and Shania who reside at the facility. You can see Chick B and its foster parents in the nest on the live stream below or by clicking here. The webcam is hosted by the Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program in partnership with the Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program.
The mission of the Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program is to breed Northern Spotted Owls in a captive breeding program for eventual release into over 300,000 hectares of protected old growth forests in hopes that the species will re-establish itself and thrive. Located in British Columbia, the Breeding Program began in 2007 with a founding population of six adult Spotted Owls. There are currently 20 Spotted Owls residing at the breeding facility, including four breeding pairs. The Program's target is to house 10 breeding pairs by 2020, and release 10-20 offspring each year for the next 15-20 years.
The Northern Spotted Owl (NSO) is one of Canada’s most endangered species. Its entire Canadian range occurs in southwestern British Columbia.
Though historic estimates suggest that as many as 1,000 Spotted Owls occurred in the province pre-European settlement, currently fewer than 30 individuals remain in Canada, with more than half of those owls residing at the NSO Breeding Facility in Langley, BC.
The primary threat to Spotted Owls is habitat loss and fragmentation through industrial activities and human expansion. Additional threats include competition from the similar Barred Owl that has invaded the Spotted Owl’s range in recent decades.
Photo Credits: Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Centre
The NSO Breeding Program began in 2007 with a founding population of six adult Spotted Owls. There are currently 20 Spotted Owls residing at the breeding facility, including four breeding pairs.
As this is the first and only breeding program for this species in the world, the team has had to overcome challenges to better understand the behaviors and husbandry techniques required to successfully breed this species. The Program applies husbandry techniques such as: double clutching, artificial incubation, and hand rearing to increase the number of eggs produced and to give chicks the best chance for survival.
The Program's mission is to prevent this species from becoming extirpated from Canada by releasing captive-raised Spotted Owls back into habitat protected for the species in the province.
During the 2017 breeding season the NSO Team welcomed two chicks, Chick B and Chick D. Chick B is the first offspring for newly formed pair, Sally and Watson. Chick D is the second born to Scud and Shania. Both chicks are second-generation captive born Spotted Owls, which gives the Program confidence that captive born owls will be able to reproduce successfully.
Both chicks were artificially incubated for 32 days prior to hatching, which took an additional 85 hours! The chicks finally hatched on April 12 and April 19, 2017 and were hand raised before being returned to their parents.
The chicks have continued to grow more and more each day and left their nests in late May. As of July, the chicks are now able to fly all over their aviaries, but still rely on Mom and Dad to bring them food. They will be full grown and independent from their parents in the Fall, at which time they will undergo a routine veterinary exam and the team at the facility will find out if they are male or female.
A pair of Spectacled Owl chicks, at Zoo Basel, hatched at the beginning of February. Too big for their nest, they are now quite content to perch on branches and wait for Mama or Papa to bring them food!
The owlets are already as big as their parents. However, it will be two to three years before the siblings' snowy feathers change to the dark patterns of the adults.
Keepers at Zoo Basel utilized DNA samples and were able to determine that the chicks are male and female. Staff initially suspected as much by just examining the physical aspects of the chicks. Female eyebrows are usually slightly larger than the males, but otherwise look identical. To be quite sure, determination of the sex is made by means of a genetic examination. The Zoo’s veterinarian pulled out a small growing feather and sent it to the lab. The keeper’s speculations were confirmed: the bigger of the chicks is the female.
During examinations, veterinarians also applied a chip the size of a rice kernel under the skin. With this, the bird receives a lifelong identity. This is important for the conservation programs that guide zoological breeding and care of the Spectacled Owl.
The parents of the chicks are a well-established couple. In several breedings, the two have proved that they are very caring and attentive. This winter season, at Zoo Basel, was a bit turbulent. The birds were temporarily indoors, and the two proved to be completely stress-resistant and looked after their nestlings reliably.
Photo Credits: Zoo Basel
The Spectacled Owl (Pulsatrix perspicillata) is a large tropical owl native to the neotropics. It is a resident breeder in forests from southern Mexico and Trinidad, through Central America, south to southern Brazil, Paraguay and northwestern Argentina.
This species is largely nocturnal. It is a solitary, unsocial bird, associating with others of their own species for reproductive purposes.
The Spectacled Owl is typically the largest and most dominant owl in its range, with the larger Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) rarely venturing into true rainforest habitats.
It preys principally on a wide array of mammals, eating almost anything that is nocturnally active. Various rodents may be primary, but virtually any type of small mammal in its habitat is vulnerable.
In Costa Rica, eggs are laid variously in the dry season (November–May), or at the start of the wet season (June–July). This owl typically nests in an unlined tree cavity, but may also use the crutch of a large tree. Spectacled Owls typically lay one to two eggs, which are incubated almost entirely by the female for about five weeks. Chicks leave the nest for surrounding branches at about five to six weeks but cannot usually fly well at this stage. They tend to depend on their parents, for several months after leaving the nest, and may be cared for and fed for up to a year once fledged. Spectacled Owls have been known to breed while still in immature snowy plumage, since it may take up to five years before full adult plumage is obtained.
The Spectacled Owl occurs over a very large range and is still a resident in much of its native habitat. Due to this, it is currently classified as “Least Concern” by the IUCN. However, in areas where prey is hunted by people, and habitats are destroyed or compromised, their population may decrease.
The Christmas season is over, but it came early for Cango Wildlife Ranch, in South Africa… bearing the most precious gifts of life! They weren’t just blessed with one or two little bundles of joy; the storks were working overtime as they reached a record high 18 babies for the month of December!
Cango staff are still beaming from ear to ear... just like proud parents. They had an incredible litter of six Cheetah cubs born at the private reserve on November 16. The cubs are strong and healthy, as is mom.
As you can imagine, the only thing cuter than one Cheetah cub is six of them! They currently receive around-the-clock care at the C.A.R.E.S. (Care and Rehab of Endangered Species) facility, and will move to the ranch in early January. The cubs provide valuable new bloodlines, which will form part of Cango’s Cheetah Preservation Program and on-going conservation efforts throughout the next decade.
The season of excitement spread from six Cheetahs to a pair of twins! Picture a Lemur right out of the movie Madagascar---with a gorgeous long black and white striped tail curved overhead, bright orange eyes as wide as the sun and a fluffy grey body. Upon taking a closer look, there are four tiny hands wrapped around her body, closely nestled on her chest are her tiny clones with stringy tails and eyes wide and alert in their big bobble-heads. Too perfect for words! Whilst mom soaks up the morning sun, the babies get a little braver and often attempt to ‘venture’ off into the unknown, but the big adventure is never more than half a meter away and they clumsily hop back to mom. One can watch them for hours until they all curl up in a big ball to take an afternoon nap.
Cango’s next baby was born in their Wallaby Walkabout. Now as cute as all the babies are, staff are confident that the new little Joey is more than likely hogging second place. He finally revealed himself by peeking out of his moms pouch! Talk about luxury living… the little Joey enjoys around-the-clock climate control, all cushioned and snug, full ‘room-service’ for meals with all the safety features of a protective mom all in her pouch! He has since started braving the big world…. He often falls out of mom’s pouch but stays close and attentive at all times. At the sight of an intimidating dove, he hops back to mom and dives headfirst into her pouch, often forgetting that his lanky legs are still sticking out.
Photo Credits: Cango Wildlife Ranch
All the animal mommies are doing a phenomenal job caring for their young ones but credit must be given to Cango Wildlife Ranch’s wonderful team of hand-raisers, as well. They have had their hands full over the past month. At times, it is vital to intervene and care for babies to ensure survival. Each and every life is important to them, and they endeavor to go above and beyond to ensure they provide the utmost care to every single animal at the facility. They often act as mums, when the real moms aren’t able.
Currently, two Swainsons Lorikeet chicks (as well as two eggs being incubated), two gorgeous little Von Der Decken’s Hornbills, one bright-eyed Malayan Flying Fox (bat), and four incredible Spotted Eagle Owls are in the hands-on care of staff at the Ranch.
The Lorikeets often need to be hand-raised, due to the larger males feeding on the eggs. Staff incubates all the eggs in the C.A.R.E.S. Centre and then cares for the hatchlings until they are on solid food and can return to the aviary. This also results in very special bonds formed between the birds and carers.
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.
Photo 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.