LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The speckled owlet came, as planned, on New Year's Day and was perfectly healthy.
Staff members at the Ellen Trout Zoo are still aware that mothers sometimes reject the babies.
"If they're not, sometimes, we'll have to supplemental feed or even pull the baby, if necessary," said Ellen Trout Zoo employee Crissy Garrett. "But, luckily this pair does really well with their babies."
Despite the owlet's young age, it has already learned to make noises. However, you won't hear any hooting from this chick. Speckled owls make a sharp, clicking noise with their beaks.
The speckled owlet, which is actually only 25 days old, doesn't look much like its parents, with its white, fluffy feathers. But, as it get's older, it'll shed those feathers and take on the more characteristic, brown and white color of the speckled owl."
The parent owls, named Momma and Poppa, recently had a baby, who is old enough to be displayed in the speckled owl exhibit.
"We like to put them out when they're still a juvenile so that you can tell the difference between a juvenile plumage and adult plumage," Garrett said.
The speckled owls are known to be more territorial than normal owls, so the zoo worked around that.
"A lot of our nest boxes have trapdoors on the side, so you easily open and access parent and baby, get a visual inspection, even feed, without having to open up the nest box completely," Garrett said.
Past hatchlings have been transported as far away as Belize.
"We've been placing them with other zoos who want to have speckled owls on exhibit, or they do having breeding plans for them even if they're not protected," Garrett said.
Ellen Trout Zoo has not yet decided whether or not they plan to keep the chick. The staff also added that they will announce the gender of the chick as soon as they send off one of the owlet's feathers and get back it's DNA information.