Gallery: Owl chick is set to soar

The Suffolk Owl Sanctury at Stonham Barns, Stonham Aspal has new arrivals. General manager, Andy Hul

The Suffolk Owl Sanctury at Stonham Barns, Stonham Aspal has new arrivals. General manager, Andy Hulme, is pictured with Birkett, a great horned owl hatched on the 7th of March. - Credit: Archant

WITHIN weeks this ball of fluffy feathers will be a fully-grown great horned owl.

Over the Easter weekend, visitors to Suffolk Owl Sanctuary at Stonham Barns had the opportunity to meet the first new arrival of 2013. Birkett was born on March 7 to parents Huron and Phoenix but is only now old enough to go on show.

It is too soon to know whether Birkett – named in honour of sponsors Birketts Solicitors – is male or female, but the sanctuary’s general manager, Andy Hulme, said that it would become clear soon enough.

He said: “At this stage we don’t know if it is male or female but you can normally tell by the time it’s a bit older.

“The females are normally bigger than the males.

“Great horned owls are the North American and Canadian equivalent of our eagle owl, but are a bit smaller.

“Huron and Phoenix have been breeding here for six or seven years. Phoenix laid three eggs, but only one hatched. She did well, with all the cold weather we have had.

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“They are quite a common breed in North America and they will eat mammals and birds and can be very aggressive at the nest.

“I have heard stories about great horned owls in Central Park in New York and when they are nesting they have had to cordon off areas so that people who are jogging or having a picnic do not get attacked.”

The sanctuary is open all year round and although Birkett is the first arrival of this spring, there are many others on the way with several mothers-to-be tending their eggs at the moment.

When Birkett is fully grown – which should be at around nine weeks – the young owl will join the flying display team and take part in demonstrations around the site.

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