Can you tell what it is yet?

Superb camouflage keeps our new long eared owl almost hidden from view!

Here at the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary we have a variety of captive-bred owls & other birds of prey we use to illustrate the variety of native-bred species. These reside in aviaries at our Stonham headquarters and many are used in the demonstrations, talks & visits we undertake during the course of a year. This core collection is augmented by species from around the globe, which go further to show what a great & spectacular diversity of size, colour, form and lifestyle there is in the raptor world.

A great many of the birds at S.O.S. regularly fly free in the displays we give at the centre from around Easter right through the summer, and others live in spacious accomodation with the space, habitat, privacy & security required to provide an humane & stress-free environment.

Where & whenever possible, we like to keep our birds as male & female pairs of the same species, as they are generally much happier this way than if living in isolation. Though many are 'bonded' couples, the pairing is not specifically for breeding reasons and indeed, many of our older birds are paired together purely for companionship.

However, when the need arises it can sometimes prove difficult to find a mate for a single bird already in residence at S.O.S. This has been the case with Lanark, our long eared owl, who sadly (and despite our best efforts) has - since the demise of her previous partner due to old age - spent most of last year alone.

Since that time we have been trying all the usual channels to find a replacement male long eared owl, the channels being firstly, other raptor centers or collections; secondly, reputable breeders, and thirdly, private owners and other contacts who may be seeking a home for a bird they can no longer keep.

When we began our search, we soon discovered that virtually all suitable captive, non-related male long eared owls of a suitable age were already spoken for - quite literally "otherwise engaged."

Eventually we found a suitable candidate in the hands of a private collector. Having taken delivery, we then set about carefully introducing the owls to each other to spot whether there was likely to be any aggressive behaviour between them - firstly by putting them in separate, adjacent aviaries within sight of each other and subsequently together in the same aviary under constant scrutiny until such time as we felt confident they could co-habit peacefully.

Fortunately, after a week together it looks as though we have a compatible couple: whether they will bond successfully in terms of breeding remains to be seen.

Kielder & Lanark get to know each other

However, trying to get a photo of the new male - we've called him Kielder - is proving incredibly difficult! This is not really surprising as, as with any animals introduced into new surroundings, they are at first very timid and wary of change in situation, But although you have yet to see the best of Keilder, the photos do explain why these birds are hard to see in the wild, where their mottled plumage provides excellent camouflage long eared owls can be virtually impossible to see as they sit motionless up in the branches beside the trunk of a tree!

We will of course keep you informed of the progress of this new couple, and if you think you are clever enough to spot them in situ, then why not pay us a visit to meet the latest addition to the Stonham family.