Fraser (8 days old) and Georgia (11 days old) were two of four Northern Spotted Owl chicks born at the NSOBP in 2019. (special to Langley Advance Times)

Fraser (8 days old) and Georgia (11 days old) were two of four Northern Spotted Owl chicks born at the NSOBP in 2019. (special to Langley Advance Times)

Baby owls are on the way at Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program in Langley

May be a record year for hatchlings at facility that is trying to save the species from extinction

Baby owls are about to hatch at the Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program in Langley, which has announced that the first eggs of the season have arrived and chicks are expected in just four short weeks.

Jasmine McCulligh, facility coordinator called it “very exciting.”

Last year, four baby owls successfully hatched at the centre.

“They’re all doing well, McCulligh told the Langley Advance Times.

Next season, the newest additions will be old enough for breeding, getting the centre a few steps closer to its ultimate goal.

For 10 years, the BC Conservation Foundation has been working to bring back the endangered owls from the brink of extinction.

At the Langley centre, owls are raised and fed in large netted enclosures, big enough to allow the owls to fly and even to hunt live prey at times.

The Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program is working to restore the population of Spotted Owls in British Columbia through captive breeding and release into protected habitat. It is estimated that less than ten individual wild Spotted Owls remain in Canada. The NSOBP hopes to house ten breeding pairs of Spotted Owls and eventually produced 10-20 offspring per year to grow the wild population to 200 individuals over the next 50 years.

Eggs are laid in March and they are artificially incubated for 32 days before they hatch. Each egg is monitored closely in a sterile environment to minimize contamination and give the chicks the healthiest start possible. Once the chicks hatch, they are monitored 24 hours a day for ten days before being returned to their parents.

READ MORE: Selfies with owl offers a close-up look at endangered species

The NSOBP is celebrating the arrival of each egg and wants to share the excitement with the community through their Adopt an Egg fundraising campaign. For a $20 donation, donors will receive a customized adoption certificate and weekly emails about how the eggs are developing. This year marks the fifth anniversary of Adopt an Egg and the funds raised from each symbolic adoption will help to purchase much needed supplies such as paper towel, disinfectants, sterile gauze, disposable gloves, and distilled water. These materials are important for keeping the incubators and the breeding centre’s facilities as sterile as possible. Donations can be made online at https://www.nsobreedingprogram.com/adopt-an-egg

READ MORE: Trio of endangered owls hatch at Langley breeding program

Thanks to a successful Adopt an Egg campaign in 2019, as well as financial contributions from the John Ball Zoo and Abbotsford Community Foundation’s Mary Wakefield Animal Welfare Grant, the NSOBP was able to purchase all of the necessary supplies as well as a new incubator to accommodate the growing number of eggs and chicks. In 2019 the NSOBP had its best breeding season yet and welcomed four chicks as a result of artificial incubation and so far 2020 is on track to beat that record.



dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

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