A five-week-old Boobook Owl was found orphaned at a children’s playground in Sydney’s Killara and brought to Taronga Wildlife Hospital this week.
Affectionately nicknamed Betty by the Taronga Wildlife Hospital veterinary team, the owl is just a nestling and should still be living in a hollow and being fed by her parents. She was likely orphaned because the tree containing her hollow was cut down, or she could have ventured out of the hollow and been blown to the ground.
Taronga Wildlife Hospital Manager, Libby Hall, said she was hopeful the owl would make a full recovery and eventually be released back into her wild home.
“Its early days but she’s making good progress. Hand raising her will be complex as she is very young, but we plan to get her back to the wild.”
Fortunately, Betty has no injuries. However, she will stay at the hospital for a few months before release back into the wild. Currently too young to fend for herself Betty is therefore being hand raised, but for a successful release, she also needs to retain her wild qualities so that she can catch her own prey and protect herself in the wild, in addition to learning to fly.
Living in Sydney, the biggest threats to Boobook Owls is habitat loss, attacks by dogs and cats, especially for young owls, and the risk of being hit by a car in the night. Owls live in hollows, which are the trees that are often cut down.
Australia’s smallest owl, the Southern Boobook, is found across most of mainland Australia and throughout Tasmania.
If you find an injured or orphaned bird, you should put the bird in a ventilated box and bring them to Taronga Wildlife Hospital, which is open every day.