Skip to main content

Learning to fly: Rare snowy owlets spread their wings

Aug. 17, 2023, 2:04 p.m.
Topic: Animal well-being, Habitat news
A snowy owl and two owlets in their outside habitat

Rocky and Banff’s four fluffy chicks venture out of the nest and begin to explore

The Oregon Zoo’s Great Northwest habitat is full of flaps, feathers and fluff this week as four snowy owlets are venturing out of their nest to explore. Hatched last month to parents Rocky and Banff, the young birds are growing quickly and taking baby steps toward their first flight. 

“The biggest of the group is already hopping around and spreading its wings quite a bit,” said Jen Osburn Eliot, who oversees the zoo’s northwest area. “We expect all four little ones to start making test flights over the next few weeks.”  

The downy gray chicks had their first vet exam earlier this week. All four are healthy and gaining weight — and feathers — fast. Snowy owls usually nest and hunt on the ground, and owlets develop quickly to better avoid predators. Eliot predicts all four owlets will have their adult feathers within another month or two. 

“They’ll still look fluffier than their parents for a while,” Eliot said. “But they should have long feathers and be as large as adult snowy owls by the end of the summer.”  

Visitors to the zoo might be able to catch a glimpse of the four fluffballs in the snowy owl habitat near Black Bear Ridge. Eliot recommends looking on the ground until those adult wing feathers grow in.