GALLERY: Owlets released at Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve

AT THE RELEASE: Sara Orchardson, Delina Chipape and Frank Thema before the release box was opened.

ON an extremely cold Saturday morning at 5am, a small group of residents gathered at the Entrance Precinct at the Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve, Kibler Park, to watch the release of two barn owlets.

With the group was Sara Orchardson from Eco Solutions, Delina Chipape and Frank Thema from owlproject.org

The owlets had been found on a road and handed to a rehabilitation centre and as soon as they were given the all clear for release, they were brought to the Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve by owlproject.org to be placed into their release box as a joint release programme with Johannesburg City Parks.

“The Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve is an ideal release site as its quiet at night which allows for owlets to find their wings without disturbance,” said Frank.

The release box had been placed on the outside of the coffee shop wall at the Entrance Precinct, and the owlets were fed daily by either staff at the Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve, staff at the coffee shop or Rob and Leornarda Jones, local residents, who made themselves available to assist with the feeding. This was all done under the watchful eye of owlproject.org

FREE: The owlet had fluttered down to the ground and surveyed the land before flying off.

Food for the owlets was delivered weekly and the owls’ intake was monitored. The owl feeding team are best described as surrogate owl parents as they continue feeding the owls well after their release. This can continue for as long as three months after release, or until the youngsters have honed their rat-catching skills to the point of self-sufficiency.

“We often find that months after the release, the owls will return and utilise the box to breed and raise owlets of their own,” said Sara.

Rob was asked to open the release box on June 2, to set the owlets free and as the small group watched, one of them fluttered down to the ground, before flying off into a group of nearby trees. The other owlet refused to move and as dawn broke the release box was closed up again.

Rob and Leonarda continued the feeding each day, opening the box to see if the owlet would leave.

“He was very stubborn and wouldn’t leave the box, until eventually on Tuesday evening, June 5, he plucked up the courage, came down onto the ground and then after a few minutes he flew off,” added Rob. Both owlets are now returning for food nightly, which is being placed on top of the release box.

OPENED: One of the owls peers out of the box.

All owls released through this programme are ringed with a metal Safring which allows their success to be monitored. Anyone finding a ringed owl should please contact owlproject.org immediately.

Read: 

GALLERY: Barn owls get released at Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve

Owl box for UCPA

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  AUTHOR
Julie Maule
News Editor

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