First hatchlings!

Spring is always a busy and exciting time for us, not only as a result of the rise in admissions to the raptor hospital due the wild owl breeding season, but also because many of the captive birds residing at the centre are also producing progeny.

Several owls have been sitting on eggs for the last couple of weeks including the Malaysian Wood Owls, Spectacled Owls and Tawny Owls. First past the post this year - as has often been the case - were the Great Horned Owls, Huron and Pheonix who successfully hatched two owlets on 27th. March.

Huron and Pheonix the Great Horned Owls have become proud parents
once again - here their two young owlets nestle in the incubator

The young have been removed from the nest, in order to protect them from the sharp talons of their parents and the newborns are safely accommodated in a cosy incubator within the falconers’ hut. From now on they will be fed every couple of hours, as would be the case in the wild - in this case, however, the falconers will quickly become recognised as their source of food, rather than their parent birds.

This familiarisation with humans from an early age will enable the team to handle the birds who will thus become amenable to training to the glove once the time comes.

The sanctuary’s Great Horned Owls are a particular success story regarding egg laying and hatching. For the last 9 years they have consistently laid eggs and each year have produced a pair of young. Most of these offspring have been exchanged with other centres in the U.K. in order to increase captive bred stock and maintain a healthy gene pool.

However, one son, Birkett has remained at the centre and will be instantly recognisable to regular visitors as one of the showstoppers of the thrice daily flying displays. Great Horned Owls are magnificent birds and popular with photographers due to their striking plumage and mesmerising vivid orange eyes!

Visitor Helene Thomas entered this great photo of Birkett in our
Photo Competition last year, highlighting his characteristic
'ear tufts' and vivid orange eyes.
(Click here if you'd like to enter the 2017 Photo Competition)

Although tiny scraps when first hatched, like most owls, they grow rapidly on their protein rich diet and within a matter of a few months, this week’s newborns will be a perfect match for their older brother!