Saturday, May 2, 2015

Whooo is THAT bird over there?

Visitors to the nature center at the World Bird Sanctuary often notice an unusual-looking owl in the weathering area.  The Naturalists at the nature  center often hear the question – “What is THAT bird over there?” – as the visitor points in amazement at our Mia, the Spectacled Owl.

Closeup of Mia (photo: Dawn Griffard)

Mia often gets much attention for her exotic markings.  She is a beautiful caramel and black color with a swooping beige “uni-brow” and has a seemingly extremely prideful gaze.

Mia is a beautiful representation of her species, which is indigenous to Mexico, Central America and the northern part of South America.

Mia's beautiful color and markings often draw "oohs" and "aahs" from visitors (photo: Dawn Griffard)

Spectacled Owls prefer dense tropical rainforests but can also be found in dry forests, treed savannah habitats and open areas with scattered trees. Like most raptors, Spectacled Owls are generally not social birds.  This owl is nocturnal. Because of deforestation of rainforests, the Spectacled Owl may be in trouble in the near future.

Spectacled Owls are not particular when it comes to their diet. They will eat just about anything that ventures into the area they are patrolling. To catch their prey, they will simply drop from the tree branch on which they are perched with a swooping pounce. These owls will dine on anything from caterpillars and beetles to frogs, mice, smaller birds, opossums and skunks.

Nesting season is generally from January to August. They are cavity nesters, as are many other species of owls.  The incubation of their eggs lasts about 36 days.

Fledglings are ready to fly at about six to eight weeks. These little ones will not acquire their full adult plumage for up to five years. When hatched, they are beige/white with black, heart-shaped faces.

Our Mia was hatched at the North Carolina Zoo and was hand-raised so that she would be easy to work with in our educational programs. In 1994, she became a part of the World Bird Sanctuary’s spring/summer program at Grant’s Farm in St. Louis and since then went to Tampa, Florida to be in the sanctuary’s show at Busch Gardens.  More recently she has also made appearances at the winter Owl Prowls here at WBS and has starred in many educational programs.  She has free flown in WBS’s bird show at Stone Zoo in Boston.

Mia sunning in the weathering area (photo Dawn Griffard)

Now retired from free flying in shows, Mia still engages crowds by appearing in our programs as a glove-handled bird. She enjoys playing with sticks and leaves in the weathering area and can be a great conversationalist as she chatters with her “pup-pup-pup-pup-pup” and warbling hoot. Mia is now 22 years old, and according to those who have known her for a good part of her life, she only gets sweeter with age.

Mia is available for adoption through our Adopt-A-Bird program! For a mere $100.00, you can become Mia’s “adoptive family”, helping to care for her for an entire year.  You will also receive the following:
  • Certificate of Adoption with a full color photograph
  • World Bird Sanctuary sponsorship for one year
  • One year’s subscription to our newsletter – the Mews News – printed three times per year
  • Natural history and life history of your special adopted animal
  • Plush bird toy
  • Reusable WBS shopping bag
  • 10% discount on all World Bird Sanctuary merchandise in our gift shop
  • 10% discount on all public programs offered at World Bird Sanctuary, such as Owl Prowls, Nature Hikes, etc.
  • Visiting privileges and photo opportunities with the special new member of your family (just call ahead first to make sure she will be here).

We hope that you will consider adopting our Mia and become a part of the World Bird Sanctuary family!

Submitted by Dawn Griffard, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

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