Maybe Babies

It has been a very interesting (if somewhat damp) start to the spring here at SOS but that hasn’t stopped our collection of youngsters from increasing in size and number. As the breeding season is now in well under way, many of our species have laid eggs and now they’re beginning to hatch - so read on for all the latest news and watch this space for future developments.

First & foremost, our proudest achievement so far in 2007 is the arrival of a young Boobook Owl, which you can see in the picture above in the nest, just a few days after it had hatched. This is first time we have successfully had our pair of Boobooks Tasmin & Darwin breed at SOS. As you can see from the photo, they did have two other eggs in the nest but as these have failed to hatch, we suspect they will prove to be infertile - a not uncommon occurrence for first time parents!

The name “Boobook” comes from the Eora Aboriginal tribe, the original inhabitants of the Sydney region of Australia, and they are truly a fascinating species. Found in the more fertile parts of Australia and New Zealand, Boobooks can be found in most habitats where trees are present - probably due to their being a cavity-nesting species - from deep tropical forests to isolated stands at the edges of arid zones.

Most commonly found in temperate woodland, they are mainly a nocturnal species but can also be active at dawn and dusk. They are the smallest of the Ninox family of Hawk Owls, so called because of their long hawk-like tail  which they use in the same way that a hawk would, to give greater steering and manoeuvrability through wooded terrain.

The Southern Boobook (unbelievably) has almost 20 other alternative common names in use, most of which are regional; the Mopoke or Morepork are the most well recognised of these; and others include the Boobook and the Tasmanian Spotted Owl.  In Maori it is called the Ruru.  Many of these common native names are onomatopoeic, probably due to the fact this owl has a two-tone call - depending on your own personal interpretation, it can sound very much like - Boo-book, More-pork and Ru-Ru - when pronounced aloud!  If you want to hear this owl for yourself and confirm the name it truly deserves, why not pay us a visit this summer?

Next up, our pair of GREAT HORNED OWLS  Phoenix & Huron have had two healthy and very sturdy looking chicks.  As a illustration of just how quickly they can grow, our pictures here show the youngsters shortly after they hatched and - just 7 weeks later - the fledged owls sitting up with Mum in their aviary.

From ‘ugly ducklings’ to handsome fledglings - the change in just 7 weeks is impressive as the two youngsters sit with Mum amongst the leaves

Our breeding pair of MALAYSIAN BROWN WOOD OWLS also had two young, although one of them sadly didn’t make it. The other, however, is now growing up fast.  We have decided to name the remaining chick BALI, and we will of course keep you informed of his or her progress!

Before long BALI will have all the distinctive plumage characteristic of the beautiful Malaysian Wood Owl

Then of course their is Baloo, which is our young BENGAL EAGLE OWL, who is developing very rapidly and hopefully will go on to become part of our education team as he matures.  He has already become something of character here at S.O.S. and is more than happy to meet and greet everyone who has encountered him!  At the moment Baloo is living temporarily in one of our newly-built aviaries next to the flying field as he goes through the early stages of training and at some point in the not-too-distant future we intend to dedicate a whole Diary story to his development from chick to adulthood!

Although maturing rapidly, we are still not quite sure of the  sex of Baloo, so for the time being we’re referring to him as... “Him”.  Watch this space for further news!