Gallery: Owl chicks are a real hoot

HERE'S looking at you, chick.

Simon Tomlinson

HERE'S looking at you, chick.

These delightful baby owls are a welcome distraction for sanctuary staff who have been fretting about their missing vulture.

The Suffolk Owl Sanctuary at Stonham Barns has been kept busy with a flurry of births over the last couple of weeks.

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They are currently looking after three European eagle owl chicks, a newborn Asian brown wood owl and two lanner falcon offspring.

A number of hatchlings are also expected over the bank holiday weekend.

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Andy Hulme, manager of the sanctuary, said: “It is looking like a really good breeding season. It is all down to the extra light we are getting now.”

The European eagle owl chicks were the first to hatch on April 14 and 16.

Their mother, Rhiea, was the sanctuary's first ever owl when she arrived in 1995 and was a star performer for many years.

But when she turned 12, she became tired of public demonstrations and turned towards more romantic interests, courting and having offspring with the male of the species, Sam.

On April 20, an Asian brown wood owl hatched and over the last week, Lady and Flint have welcomed their two lanner falcon chicks.

The lanner falcons will be reared by keepers, using tweezers to feed them, until they are around 12 days old before being given back to their parents.

Staff at the Stonham Barnes sanctuary are also hopeful a new crop of snowy owls, currently being incubated by their mother, Snowdrop, will successfully hatch.

Nineteen-year-old Snowdrop has already given birth to 34 youngsters in her lifetime and the offspring have gone to various places around the world from Japan to Holland.

Baby harris hawks and southern-faced scops owls could also be on their way over the bank holiday weekend.

But amid the joy, staff are becoming increasingly concerned for the safety of Inca, the Turkey Vulture, who escaped the sanctuary earlier this month.

The two-foot tall bird has been spotted in various parts of the county since he was blown off course during a training exercise on April 7, but there have been no reported sightings for a week.

Mr Hulme said: “It could mean he's moved further away or something bad has happened to him. We are asking people to keep their eyes peeled.”

Anyone who thinks they may have seen Inca is urged to call the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary on 01449 711425 or 077151 04534.

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