Intrigued by the outcome of our incredible discovery a few weeks ago, and following on from a similar story in Camp Dam. Obsessed with this story I couldn’t help but drive past this Spotted Eagle-Owl nest numerous times with each set of guests hoping to notice a change. Staring for what felt like hours through our binoculars trying to spot the slightest movement.
This however was all well worth it when we first spotted the chick! Meaning the eggs have hatched!
Although two eggs were laid, it seems that only one of them successfully hatched as we have only ever seen one chick in the nest.
Spotted eagle owls are highly social animals and form strong bonds with their mates and offspring. Both parents play a role in raising the chicks and ensuring their survival.
The chicks are born blind and completely helpless, so they rely on their parents for everything. The parents will bring them food and keep them warm and protected until they are old enough to start exploring and learning to hunt on their own which occurs from about four to six weeks old. By seven weeks old they are capable of flying confidently.
Parental care for the chicks lasts for about six to eight weeks and they will normally disperse at roughly four months. From about one year old, the fledgeling will reach sexual maturity and will have moved out of its parent’s territory.
After a successful morning game drive, Ray and I decided to stop for the obligatory coffee break in this familiar section of the Tugwaan drainage line as, not only is it beautiful, but also gave us a chance to walk down and check on the nest.
As we approached the nest, out flew two fully grown owls, and Ray with his sharp eyes spotted the movement from this flightless chick.
These beautiful owls are known for their striking appearance and their silent, stealthy hunting skills, but there’s something truly special about seeing this tiny helpless and vulnerable chick.
Viewing the nest through binoculars, we can get the slightest glimpse of the fluffy, downy bodies of the chick, big round eyes fixed on me with a mixture of curiosity and fear. It’s only a few weeks old, but already learning to navigate the world around it, learning to trust and rely on its parents for protection and sustenance.
Life Now from now on
Life for a Spotted Eagle-Owl fledgling (a young, recently fledged bird that is no longer dependent on its parents for food) will be the most challenging stage of its life.
During the fledgling stage, the young owl is learning to hunt and forage for food on its own. This can be a difficult and risky process, as the fledgling is still inexperienced and may not always be successful in catching prey. It may take several weeks or even months for the fledgling to fully develop its hunting skills and become proficient at finding food, during which time it is still semi-dependant on its parents.
With any luck, this young chick will quickly master the art of hunting, and we will continue to catch a glimpse of these owls as they glide past.