Sunriver Nature Center & Observatory (SNCO) has welcomed a female Eurasian Eagle-owl (Bubo bubo) to its ambassador animal program. The owl is the first new raptor to come to the center since 2016.
The young owl, who is unnamed at this time, was hatched at a New York-based wildlife center on June 4 of this year and traveled to Sunriver in early July. Because of airline restrictions on transporting animals due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the owlet made the four-day journey via car, accompanied by a member of SNCO’s animal care staff. Since arriving at the center, the owl has been acclimating to its new environment and gaining experience with different sights, sounds and people to help prepare her for her role as an ambassador of bird conservation.
The Eurasian Eagle-owl joins the center’s collection of ambassador birds that includes a Golden Eagle, Swainson’s Hawk and Great Horned Owl. Although closely related to Great Horned Owls, Eurasian Eagle-owls are physically distinctive due to their large size and deep orange-colored eyes. This species is known as the largest owl in the world with a wingspan of up to six feet and weighing nine to ten pounds. As their name suggests, the owls are found throughout Europe, Asia and North Africa and can occupy many different types of habitats.
With sights set on a future expansion of its facilities and programs, Sunriver Nature Center & Observatory’s animal program has been evolving over the last two years, incorporating new practices to ensure that the animals’ quality of life continues to be valued at the highest level. The Eurasian Eagle- owl will be the first animal to come into the redesigned program that includes a robust training and enrichment program led by animal program coordinator, Kelli Neumann.
The Eurasian Eagle-owl will serve as an educational ambassador helping to educate over 50,000 visitors yearly about bird diversity and conservation. “We are excited for the many new opportunities that the eagle-owl will create for students, families and our visitors to connect with nature in an up-close and personal way,” said Abby Rowland, executive director. “As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to present challenges for our organization, the owl is a welcome addition to our collection and reaffirms our mission to inspire others to understand and cherish the natural world.”
The Eurasian Eagle-owl can be visited on exhibit at Sunriver Nature Center & Observatory, with general admission. Reservations are recommended for daytime visits and can be made online at snco.org. Private meet and greets are also available for a more personal and up-close encounter with the owl.