This coming Monday see us celebrate International Owl Awareness Day so it feels only fitting to blog about an Owl species this week
Spectacled Owls are a large, nocturnal species of Owl native to much of Central & South America. The frequent areas of tropical rain forest and are not thought to be endangered at this time.
Their name is obviously derived from the large white rings around the eyes, which serve no real purpose. They certainly don’t help to catch food. At up to 980 grams and with a wingspan of just short of a metre, Spectacleds are the largest of the tropical owl species. The sexes are alike in appearance with females slightly larger.
They are largely solitary animals, often found perched along a stream or river, making use of the open areas and presence of water to swoop on prey at night. Prey tends to be small mammals such as opossoms and rabbits, but birds, reptiles and insects may also be taken. Long talons are used to kill the prey on impact and much of the food is swallowed whole, the indigestable bits regurgitated as pellets
Breeding occurs in tree cavities, with pairs staying monogamous. Males present females with food and become increasingly vocal. Mutual preening will reinforce the pairs bond. 2 eggs are usually laid and incubation lasts for 5 weeks. Chicks leave the nest at 5 to 6 weeks but are not strong flyers at all. They will remain with the parents for a year. They can live to 35 years in the wild
We currently keep a pair of brothers near the encounter zone. The were born at Paignton in 2005 and we are keeping the 2 males as there is little demand for young Spectacled Owls at present. They are fed daily on day old chicks, or occasionally mice and rats
In news this week
Highlight of the week was King Penguin egg number 4 being laid. This was from Bill & Norman (Bill being female!) This is the first time that these two have paired, having both successfully bred with other birds in the past. That means that all 4 girls have laid this year, giving us the best return on eggs for at least 3 years. Now we just need some fertility. Bills egg is safely in the incubator alongside the other 3 weighing in at 377 grams.
The Humboldts continue to moult, with Molly finished, Arthur mid way through and Millie & Hagrid starting
The male Golden Pheasant and the pair of Blue Pies are also moulting
The Northern Helmeted Curassow egg was removed from the incubators as it was infertile
The Luzon Bleeding Heart Doves have broken their egg
The Kookaburras have at least one egg
The Roul Roul Partridges are laying again, with 1 egg present last night
The young Fulvous Tree Duck was moved into the avairy with the adults. It is currently very nervous and hiding a lot
A male Pink Backed Pelican was seen displaying rigorously during a talk this week
Wildlife wise a few wasps are now getting about with the warmer weather and a hornet was seen. There have been several sightings of a large Grass Snake in the nature area, where at least one young Kingfisher is being attended by mum and dad. A Red Kite was also seen and an Osprey was seen over Bourton on Monday, but not reported here
Monday is International Awareness Day so watch out on Facebook & Twitter for lots of Owl facts throughout the day. We will mark the day with a guided walk during the afternoon as the keepers fed the birds
Thanks for reading