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World Owl Trust - leading the World in Owl Conservation
Saturday 20th December, 2014

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Breeding At The Centre

Although not yet over, the 2007 breeding season at the World Owl Centre has been very successful. In fact, at the last count, no fewer than 37 individuals of 13 species/subspecies had been raised. An impressive result by any standard and even more impressive is the fact that all these owlets have been raised naturally by their parents.

It would be possible to breed many more owls here but that would be irresponsible. The World Owl Trust never sells owls and so their breeding is carefully managed to ensure that we only produce the right number of genetically and physically healthy youngsters which are needed to ensure the continued success of breeding programmes.

Many British barn owls Tyto alba alba have been raised here over the years but this year’s chick is noteworthy because it’s elderly parents, “Pedro” & “Moon” were both born here in 1989 & 1990 (barn owls don’’t get much older!). Three African barn owls Tyto alba affinis are a good first attempt by their parents which both arrived last year and four American barn owls Tyto alba pratincola are a further success for what are probably the only breeding pair in Europe at present.

Endangered ashy-faced owls Tyto glaucops nested twice and raised two chicks (important for the breeding programme). Three burrowing owl Athene cunicularia chicks will soon leave their imitation burrow, running back to hide whenever danger seems to threaten.

Two pairs of the small Sunda scops owls Otus lempiji cnephaeus nested and raised a total of four chicks. Usually tree-hole nesters, one pair nested very successfully in woodchips on the aviary floor. The parents of three white-faced owls Otus leucotis granti, originating from tropical Africa, surprised us by laying their eggs in February.

Two pairs of Australian boobook owls Ninox novaeseelandiae raised five young between them. Once known as Magellan horned owls, the now correctly-identified South American horned owls Bubo virginianus nacurutu raised one youngster which is already as aggressive as it’s parents. We are particularly pleased to have raised a single young Mackinder’s or Kenyan eagle owl Bubo capensis mackinderi. Nowadays it is very rarely bred in aviaries due, we think, to inbreeding (all are descendants of the two birds which bred at London Zoo fifty years ago!) Three brown wood owls Strix leptogrammica raised by two pairs is our best achievement yet with this species. Another great achievement is the successful raising of five northern hawk owls Surnia ulula in one nest. Our second pair practiced by sitting in an empty nest but should do better next year when they have reached maturity. Similarly, our older pair of beautiful great grey (gray) owls strix nebulosa raised two chicks while our one-year old pair only went through the motions this year.

Of course, the success of our owl breeding can be attributed to two factors.

One of these is the assistance and cooperation of our many owl-keeping colleagues who join us in freely transferring owls for breeding purposes. The other, of course, is our small but dedicated team of keepers and volunteers.
Their high level of care and attention makes all the difference.

David Armitage

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The World Owl Trust is a member of BIAZA
The World Owl Trust is a member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) and the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA). The Trust relies on a dedicated membership, visitors, donations and legacies.
The World Owl Trust is a member of EAZA

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