There are three owl species at the zoo, and each is beautiful and interesting in its own way. Learn a little more about these feathered birds of prey, then visit them on your next zoo trip:
Eurasian Eagle Owl
Esmerelda and Andrey are new at the zoo this season. The pair arrived in March, sponsored by a generous donation from the German Heritage Society. Zoo development director Amy Lazoff received the donation and noted that owlets are a possibility for the breeding pair.
Zoo guests can visit the Eurasian eagle owl exhibit in Central Zoo, near the red pandas, and be sure observe the ground for owl pellets.
Like other birds of prey, owls regurgitate pellets made of bones, claws, teeth, fur, and other indigestible items. Owls feed on small mammals, such as mice and voles.
Owl pellets tend to be large and are often used for study in animal education programs.
Verreaux’s Eagle Owl
This beautiful bird species can be found in the zoo’s African Journey. Roosevelt, the male, came to Fort Wayne in 2010. A female named Mio joined him just in time for the 2015 zoo season, arriving in March.
Zoo keeper Ty Laemmle enjoys introducing guests to the Verreaux’s eagle owls. “They have bright pink eyelids and also are famous for eating hedgehogs,” states Laemmle. The owls avoid hedgehog-related injuries by peeling the sharp spines off before ingesting their prey.
At the zoo, the Verreaux’s eagle owls eat large mice, chicks, and small rats.
Verreaux’s eagle owls are often called “milky eagle owls” because of their coloring. Look for Mio near the front of the exhibit and Roosevelt near the back, as this is the birds’ preferred seating arrangement.
Common Barn Owl
There’s a third species of owl that many guests overlook at the zoo. Our common barn owl, Lindbergh, isn’t always active during the day. A “night owl” by all accounts, Lindbergh is typically active after dark but may perk up during feeding time at 5PM, making Wild Wendesdays a great time to visit.
Guests can visit Lindbergh in the Indiana Family Farm. Zoo keeper Heather Schuh states that guests have the opportunity to observe Lindbergh’s weighing if they happen to be in the right place at the right time, “She gets weighed once every other month which involves us catching her to put her in a crate and then onto a scale. If the guests happen to be here on that day, they will see her very active.”
Schuh anticipates Lindbergh’s next weighing will occur on or around June 1.