A new generation of snowy owls

JUST two months after Hedwig-looklike Fetlar met an untimely end, something magical has lifted the spirits of staff at a Suffolk bird sanctuary.An air of gloom descended on Stonham Barns after five-year-old Fetlar died during a break for freedom in April.

JUST two months after Hedwig-looklike Fetlar met an untimely end, something magical has lifted the spirits of staff at a Suffolk bird sanctuary.

An air of gloom descended on Stonham Barns after five-year-old Fetlar died during a break for freedom in April.

The snowy owl had been a popular star at the sanctuary – especially because of Hedwig's role in the Harry Potter films.

He flew the nest during a flying display, and eventually made his way to the coast at Dunwich where his body was found a week later.

At first there were fears that he had been shot with an airgun, but eventually a post mortem revealed he had died from injuries sustained from flying into a hard object.

Now, however, staff at Stonham Barns have a double celebration as two baby snowy owls have been born – and they share the same parents as Fetlar.

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Head falcolner Andy Hulme said: "We were devastated when we lost Fetlar so this is very good news for everyone.

"Another two are due to hatch at the beginning of next week and hopefully among them will be a bird of the same calibre as him.

"He was our most sponsored bird and will be hard to replace but there's no reason why these owls can't be star performers like their older brother.

"Of course, it will take time and hard work but we have high hopes and we will be keeping one as his replacement."

It is not yet known whether the babies are male or female so staff are delaying the naming of them. The temperature of their incubator room is gradually being reduced and they are hand fed four-hourly.

Mr Hulme added: "Snowy owls are very popular with visitors when they are grown as they are amazing flyers and have friendly faces.

"At the moment the two newborns are just eating and sleeping but are very cute."

The busy sanctuary also welcomed three new little owls at the end of May and beginning of June and is expecting a busy week with three hawks due to hatch in the next few days.

A memorial service for Fetlar is being planned where a tree will be planted in his name and used as a centre piece in an owl courtyard – due to open in 2006.

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