Cuddly chicks born to fearsome owl

THEY might be “big balls of fluff” just now, but these two chicks will grow into formidable predators.The two birds were born to Rheia, a 13-year-old European Eagle owl, at Stonham Barns, near Stowmarket, who had never had chicks before.

THEY might be “big balls of fluff” just now, but these two chicks will grow into formidable predators.

The two birds were born to Rheia, a 13-year-old European Eagle owl, at Stonham Barns, near Stowmarket, who had never had chicks before.

The latest arrivals at the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary are doing extremely well, with the male weighing in at just under 0.5lb and the female at almost 1lb after about two weeks.

The birds have a large beak and enormous talons but their most noticeable features are the striking orange eyes .


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They have prominent ear tufts, which are raised or lowered depending on its mood, and a plumage that is mostly mottled but with bolder streaks on the breast.

European eagle owls take a range of prey from insects to larger animals such as hares, and even game birds and the chicks are currently snacking on rats, day old chickens and mice.

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Andy Hulme, head falconer at the sanctuary, said: “Rheia has suddenly showed an interest in being a mother after years and her offspring are big balls of fluff at the moment.

“This is really quite special for us.

“They will grow into formidable predators, they are at the top of their food chain and do not even make their own nests in the wild, just take other birds.”

The birds enjoy a reputation as awesome hunters, able to kill foxes and small deer with their powerful beak and fearsome talons.

Their feathers are wonderfully soft, allowing them to glide silently and unheard when hunting and in captivity can live to be in their 40s, or about 20 years in the wild.

The sanctuary now plan to hand rear the male owl and keep him, while the female will go to an expert who keeps birds.

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