Owl’s about that then

Rotorua Review - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - BENN BATH­GATE

For the first time this cen­tury a barn owl has been born in cap­tiv­ity - and its hap­pened at Ro­torua’s Wing­span Bird of Prey Cen­tre.

‘‘Wing­span are thrilled to an­nounce that our barn owls have pro­duced their first chick, mark­ing the first barn owl chick to be bred in cap­tiv­ity this cen­tury,’’ said Wing­span founder Deb­bie Ste­wart.

Ste­wart said their barn owl mon­i­tor­ing pro­gramme be­gan a decade ago with a mid­night call to Wing­span ‘‘when a young fe­male barn owl, Tahi, was found with a bro­ken wing’’.

‘‘De­spite at­tempts for her re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion back into the wild, with a per­ma­nent wing in­jury she has re­mained in cap­tiv­ity since that time.’’

Tahi was in­tro­duced to a young male barn owl, Bubo, this year.

She said that de­spite be­ing a non­na­tive species, they live hap­pily along­side ruru in both New Zealand and Aus­tralia.

Wing­span re­searcher Noel Hy­de­said they had been hop­ing for a male com­pan­ion for Tahi for 10 years.

He said barn owls are ‘‘in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult to sex vis­ually’’ so they would have to pluck a feather and send it to Massey Uni­ver­sity to have the chick’s gen­der as­cer­tained.

He said they can breed un­til around 15 years old.

Mother barn owl Tahi with her baby.

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