Monday, April 13, 2009

Eurasian Eagle-Owls Hatch!

We have recently welcomed some new additions here at the park. This past February, we were ecstatic to discover FOUR(!) fertile eggs beneath our pair of Eurasian eagle-owls on exhibit. All four chicks successfully hatched in late March. Sylvan Heights staff members are hand-rearing three of the chicks, one of which will become part of the educational presentations that we offer both on and off-site. The owl chicks are being hand-fed several times per day and we carefully monitor the growth of each chick. The parent owls are rearing the fourth chick in their nest on park grounds.

With a wingspan of 4 to 5 feet and weighing up to 9 pounds, Eurasian eagle-owls (Bubo bubo) are the largest owl species in the world. They are rumored to have killed prey as large as foxes and young roe deer. Though they mainly feed on mammals, they will also consume other birds such as capercaillie and other birds of prey.

A species of horned-owl, eagle-owls are easily recognizable by the tufts of feathers on either side of the head, as well as their size and large orange eyes. As with all owls, their large eyes are an adaptation to their nocturnal habits and allows them to see better during their night time hunts.

Their native range spans the entire Eurasian continent, from Spain and Portugal to Russia and China. Although widespread, Eurasian eagle-owls are considered rare or threatened in many parts of Europe.

In the wild, they prefer to nest on cliff ledges, cave entrances, or rocky outcroppings. At the park, you will find the pair’s nest box located at the back of their enclosure and high off the ground. The three-week-old chick has been spotted by several visitors to the park, so next time you visit, be sure to check out their exhibit which is located next to flamingos.

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