Sunday, January 27, 2013


I am very excited to tell you about this next animal!  She is such a beautiful bird and joy to work with!  I know you will fall in love with her just as I did.  She is the sweetest owl with whom I have ever had the privilege to work.
Meet Mia
Her name is Mia and she is a Spectacled Owl (Pulsatrix perspicillata).  Mia was hatched at the North Carolina Zoo in 1993 and was raised by hand to become an education ambassador.  In December of 1993 she became a celebrity after being featured on the Today Show.
These are medium-sized owls that stand at 16 to 19 inches tall and weigh from 16 to 32 ounces, depending if it is a male or female.  Females are generally larger than males in birds of prey.  Their wingspan ranges from two and half to three feet!  Spectacled Owl plumage (feather color) consists of two colors.  They have dark brown on most of their body and buffy brown on their belly.  They have a light-colored outline around their eyes, which gives the appearance that they are wearing glasses.
Can you see how this species got its name?
Spectacled Owls can be found in Mexico, Central America, and the northeast half of South America.  They reside in dense, tropical rainforests, dry forests, savannah habitat, and open places with few trees in the area.  These owls mostly eat mice and insects, but will also go after bats, small birds, frogs, spiders, and even crabs!

Spectacled owls are monogamous (meaning  they have one mate) and nest in hollow trees.  They lay from one to two eggs per clutch (a group of eggs or chicks).  The incubation period usually lasts around five weeks.  Then at five to six weeks old the chicks will start to fledge (leave the nest).  At this age however, they cannot fly well yet and will depend on their parents for up to a year until fully independent. 

A Spectacled Owl’s lifespan ranges from 25 to 35 years.  It takes three to five years to change from their juvenile to their adult plumage, depending if in the wild or captivity.  They will molt faster in the wild than in captivity.  The chick’s plumage is very different from the adult’s; actually the two colors are switched!   
The baby's white down is completely the reverse of the adult dark feathers
Another name for this owl is the Knocking Owl.  They have the ability to make a vocalization that actually sounds like someone is knocking on a wooden door!  I have heard stories where Mia has done this and “tricked” people into making them think someone is at the door!  Mia has traveled with WBS all over the country to places such as Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida, the Milwaukee County Zoo, Boston’s Stone Zoo, and  Grant’s Farm here in St. Louis.

Mia is a trained flyer that is astounding to watch.  In 2011, she flew from perch to perch in the bird show at Grant’s Farm with me.  She was the first bird I taught to fly a pattern by myself.  I was very proud of myself and her.  Mia is a much faster learner than some of the other birds I have worked with.  Below is a picture of Mia sleeping between shows at Grant’s Farm.  I think it is pretty rare to get a picture of a sleeping bird, especially an owl!  They have incredible hearing!
I caught Mia sleeping
Mia is available for adoption in our Adopt a Bird program.  To find out more information, call 636-861-3225.  All adoption donations are tax deductible.  Adoptive parents will need to make a reservation to see her since she resides at our behind-the-scenes area during her vacation months. The rest of World Bird Sanctuary is open daily from 8am-5pm.

Submitted by Lisbeth Hodges, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

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