What a Beauty!

The more different species of birds of prey we are able to show our visitors, the more we are able to enthuse people about their incredible beauty and explain about the importance of raptor conservation.  Until now, we have never had a Spectacled Owl at the Sanctuary, but this week saw the arrival of a new chap (or chapess, it’s difficult to tell at this stage) at the tender age of three weeks old.

At just three weeks old, this young Spectacled Owl is an impressive bundle of fluff!

This particular bird will be one of an intended pair, but as captive-bred Spectacled Owl chicks are few and far between and progeny this year are thin on the ground, we will have to wait until next year before we can team our new resident with a mate.

It has to be said that we are extremely lucky to acquire such a beautiful and relatively rare species, but both the examples come to us as the direct result of a donation of the son of a past supporter, who wanted us to establish a poignant tribute to his late mother with us. For this we are very grateful.

The Spectacled Owl
is a resident breeder from southern Mexico and Trinidad, southern Brazil, Paraguay and northern Argentina. They generally grow to around 46 cm long, weigh about 850 g and are fully grown at 8-9 weeks.  They are a nocturnal species, inhabiting mature forests.  They have bright yellow eyes, attractive brown upperparts, white facial markings and buff underparts. Spectacled Owls will prey on mammals, even the much larger three-toed sloth, large insects and birds, including smaller owls. For more information on this beautiful species, please click here

A Mir Trifle

Visitors to the Sanctuary often ask why some of the birds sometimes have hoods on.  Well, if you’ve ever heard the phrase ‘out of sight, out of mind’, this is where it stems from - when a raptor has a hood on, what it can’t see doesn’t worry it, so hooding a bird to keep it quiet, relaxed and can easily calm any potentially stressful situation.

Different birds have different head sizes of course and it’s important to have a hood that fits correctly, otherwise it can be easily shaken off. Recently, Head Falconer Matt had to measure Mir, our Steppe Eagle for a new hood.  A mere trifle you might think, but not when your measuring tool looks like it might be a tempting snack.  Luckily, Mir has bonded very closely with Matt – in fact he’s her favourite human in the whole world, so after a token flap of disapproval, she soon settled down and allowed him to do the necessary.  A new hood should be winging its way to you shortly, Mir…