The pair has grown considerably, and are almost unrecognisable! This beautiful duo, named Dragon and Phoenix, are now completely covered in feathers, and have fully developed wings that are allowing them to begin flying. Their keeper Grey has been training the pair to fly to glove, so that they are prepared for their big debut eventually in the QBE Free Flight Bird Show.
Grey suspects that the pair are females, judging by their size. Female Sooty Owls tend to be larger than males, so it’s a fair guess, however it will be a little while until our keepers know for sure.
Phoenix, which is two days older than Dragon, has progressed extremely well in training sessions, which are held in the morning. Grey says that although Dragon is trying hard to learn new routines, this little owl has a very independent nature means that she is easily distracted. Despite Grey’s enticing offerings of fresh meat, the young Sooty often finds better things to do and explores the surroundings before finally taking flight.
The flight from rock to glove is 1.5 metres, which is the first exciting challenge for these owls. To make sure that the owls are kept safe during this initial training, they wear a tether during practice sessions, which means that they are not at risk of flying too far from their keeper. As the birds’ confidence grows, the distance increases, and eventually training will move to the QBE Free Flight Bird Show amphitheatre. This will be more challenging for the owls, as they will have to fly in a windier area, and become accustomed to the incline of the venue.
The birds are trained once a day, every day, so our keepers are looking forward to seeing milestones in their development. When their training is complete, the beautiful owls will be a compelling part of the QBE Free Flight Bird Show!
Taronga Zoo, Media Relations
(02) 9978 4606
Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Media Relations
(02) 6881 1400
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