Securing a shared future for wildlife and people

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Loretta, Powerful Owl chick
Photo: Amanda McLellan.

A beautiful and rare Powerful Owl chick is recovering at Taronga Zoo's Wildlife Hospital after being rescued from attacking ravens in the Lane Cove National Park.

Taronga Veterinary staff are currently rehabilitating the young female owl was found one month ago in Lane Cove Park. The beautiful white bird, now named "Loretta", was rescued by staff from the Sydney Metropolitan Wildlife Service.

Only a nestling, she appeared to have fallen from her nest and was lying on the ground being attacked by a group of native ravens which had already pulled out all her tail feathers because she could not fly and was unable to return to her nest and her parents.  Loretta also sustained a few other minor injuries and was quite thin.

Initially she was placed in intensive care at the hospital where she was monitored carefully for two weeks. Loretta has now living in a larger rehabilitation yard where she can exercise and build up strength but Wildlife Hospital manager, Libby Hall, said it will take many weeks for the injured owl's tail feathers to grow back.

Because she is such a young bird her dedicated zoo carers will need to teach her how to recognise and eat food similar to what she would eat in the wild. Libby and her team are also teaching her how to fly, not only from perch to perch but also from perch to ground and back up again.

In her natural habitat Loretta will hunt nearly every day for food and the staple of her diet will be ring tail possums.

The Powerful Owl is the largest species of owl in Australasia. Their wingspan can reach up to 140cm. They are native to eastern and south-eastern regions of Australia but are quite uncommon. They are classified as a threatened species, only a step away from becoming endangered.

The main threat to these amazing owls is the loss and fragmentation of suitable forest and nesting sites. This is mainly caused by clearing for residential and agricultural development. The Powerful Owls depend heavily on large old eucalyptus trees at least 150 years old that have developed their own natural hollows over time. These trees are fast disappearing, drastically reducing nesting opportunities. 

They mate for life, producing only one or two chicks at a time. So every single owl is extremely important to the preservation of this species in our Sydney region.

Loretta's progress is excellent and it is hoped that this gorgeous Powerful Owl will soon be fully rehabilitated and released back into her wild home where she can become a vital part of the breeding population of this very special owl species.

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