News from the Mews: Operation Owlet Success!

Sunny, the Great Horned Owlet
Photo courtesy of Dom Feola

We are thrilled to share that we have welcomed a new animal ambassador, co-worker, and friend to our Shaver’s Creek community. Please meet Sunny, the Great Horned Owlet!

Sunny is approximately 7 weeks (about 1 and a half months) old and is presumed male due to his small stature relative to normal Great Horned Owl size ranges. In his fledgling stage, he is taking notes from Tom Petty and learning to fly — his great and powerful wings are getting stronger each day and will reach up to a 4.5-foot wingspan at full maturity. Petty had it right, though, coming down is the hardest part of learning to fly, and Sunny is still working on sticking his landings.

Like a human toddler, Sunny is very curious, doing a lot of exploring in his environment. His current favorite pastimes include playing with sticks, mouthing pretty stones, pouncing on his own discarded downy feathers, practicing his flight and landing skills, and snacking — cannot forget the snacks. Sunny is currently eating more grams of food per day than our eagles!

Video courtesy of Will Robertson

Sunny comes to us from a rescue and rehabilitation center in Wisconsin, having been found on the ground and assumed lost or abandoned by a well-meaning human who picked him up and took him home. He was well cared for until he was turned in to the rescue, but unfortunately, he became imprinted and does not know how to be a wild owl. Instead, he looks to humans, who he has come to trust, for all his needs including basic care, feeding, and even comfort. Currently, he is under near-constant supervision so we can learn more about him, how he responds to new stimuli, and how he operates within his new environment. Sunny is in a crucial stage of development where he will be learning what his normal is. As Hillary Hankey from Avian Behavior International says, we are “blending his ethology with behavior science to shape his individualized learning journey.”

Sunny in his mew
Photo courtesy of Paige Sutherland

You can catch Sunny in his mew during standard aviary visiting hours of 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day.

His enclosure includes a fancy ‘crib cam,’ a trail camera, that you will see when you visit him. This is meant to help us monitor behaviors and allow us to assess his activities during his most active periods of dawn and dusk. This crepuscular behavior, active with both the first and last moments of sunlight each day, is one of the ways Sunny earned his name.

In the few days he has been here, he has brought staff and lucky visitors a great deal of joy as he is truly a ray of sunshine, solidifying that Sunny is a name befitting this sweet, young owl. We look forward to sharing news of Sunny’s journey and progress at the Creek with you and watching him grow, together, for many years to come.

Read more about Sunny on Penn State News

Sunny, the Great Horned Owlet, peeks out from behind his trainer's shoulder
Photo courtesy of Paige Sutherland

2 thoughts on “News from the Mews: Operation Owlet Success!

  1. Great story with super pictures and video to go with it. He will be a great ambassador for wildlife, birds and owls. He couldn’t be in a better place with great care from a superb staff. Visitors are going to have a wonderful opportunity to learn about Great Horned Owls from him for many years.

  2. The Wildlife Program staff have been overjoyed at this new addition to the Klingsberg Aviary! We are so excited to watch him grow, develop, and flourish here at Shaver’s Creek.

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