Three fluffy baby owls are wowing visitors at flying displays.
The two American barn owl chicks and one long eared owl were born five weeks ago at the Scottish Owl Centre in Bathgate, West Lothian.
The Scottish Owl Centre at Polkemmet Country Park is the largest collection of owls in the world. The Centre houses 50 species from around the world. Most are breeding pairs on show to the public in sensitively designed, spacious aviaries. Founded by Rod and Niccy Angus, the two have contributed to the work of owl preservation and public education for almost three decades.
By the time they are 12 weeks old they will be fully developed and look just like their parents.
The barn owls are just learning to stand up, but the long eared owl is already running rings around its keepers.
Head keep Trystan Williams, 51, said: “The long eared owl developed much faster than the barn owns.
“The barn owls can only just stand up, they just stand there and look sweet.”
“People have been admiring them already.
“The long eared owl has done some little flying displays.
“The barn owls are probably a couple of months away from flying.
“By the time they are 12 weeks old they will look just like their parents and be able to fly.
“They get grown up feathers on their wings first.
“They would start to learn to fly as soon as they’re out the nest.
“They wander, hop and jump, then fly.
“I took the long eared owl to the park, and he got 10 feet (3.05 m) up in a tree.
“The barn owls stay babies for longer.”
The S.O.C. founders make it clear that theirs is not a falconry center; “We specialize in owls rather than raptors, because we want to portray their unique charisma and charm, which is often eclipsed beside the more dramatic hawks and falcons. We believe they are also excellent environmental educators.
“Our motto, ‘Education, Inspiration, Conservation’, reflects the hope that by bringing people face-to-face with owls in all their beauty and by increasing public knowledge of the environmental issues which affect their survival, we will inspire greater interest in the wider conservation concerns of our world today.
“As well as educating the public and breeding owls to increase the population of vulnerable species, we also contribute to research and conservation projects at home and abroad.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
Edited by Jessi Rexroad Shull and Alberto Arellano
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