Owls are great favorites of mine, and I’ve had the good fortune to work with and observe many species in both captivity and the wild (please see articles below). One of my most memorable wild owl experiences occurred, surprisingly, in the Bronx, when I was but 6 years old. A huge Snowy Owl perched on the roof of my home for 4 hours, awing me as had nothing else. I quickly learned that Snowy Owls travel south from their Arctic haunts when their primary prey (a small rodent known as the Lemming) is in short supply. Now biologists are finding that the close ties between Lemmings and Snowy Owls may provide important information concerning climate change. Read More »
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Today I’d like to my shift focus from pet trade birds and introduce you to a species I’ve worked with for many years, the Pel’s Fishing Owl, Scotopelia peli. One individual under my care at the Bronx Zoo lived into his 50’s, and provided me with insights into the owl-world’s most uniquely adapted predator.
Owl Diversity: Bug Hunters to Deer-Slayers
It seems that the various species of owls are viewed by most folks as “variations on a theme” – mysterious, nocturnal birds that feed upon rodents and vanish by day. But within the owl family (Strigiformes) we find an incredible diversity of lifestyles – sparrow-sized Elf Owls that nest in cacti and hunt insects, Great Horned Owls that stalk cats in NYC and parrots in Costa Rica, massive Eagle Owls capable of taking deer fawns, day-flying Hawk Owls…the list goes on. Among the most unique are those that specialize in hunting fishes, known collectively as Fish or Fishing Owls. Read More »
I’d like to depart from pet trade birds today to highlight a serious conservation concern that has remained largely un-noticed until quite recently. Most bird enthusiasts are aware that superstition has played a role in the demise of rhinos, tigers and other creatures, but our avian friends usually face other threats. However, it now seems that an unlikely combination of ancient sorcery and modern pop culture is threatening the continued existence of owls in India and, perhaps, elsewhere. Read More »