Barn owls are beautiful birds, aren’t they? This is Fezziwig (named after the Charles Dickens character in A Christmas Carol). She is a 4 month old, European barn owl. Fezziwig hatched on 11th September 2015, but she wasn’t as attractive as she is now!
Barn owls are very small, bald and pink when they first hatch, and their eyes are shut too. They change rapidly on a daily basis, and within a couple of days Fezziwig’s first feathers had started to sprout and her eyes had started to open.
Over the next few weeks, Fezziwig started to develop soft, fluffy white feathers. She began to stand up on her feet and take her first steps.
At about 2 months her adult feathers started to develop and it was only at this stage we discovered Fezziwig is female. Female European barn owls have black spots on their chest and under their wings, and a band of gold feathers around their throat. They also have stripy tails and gold feathers around their facial disc. Males, on the other hand, are almost completely white around the head, chest, tail and throat. Below is a picture of Fezziwig on the left and her father, Oaky, on the right, which shows the difference between males and females.
Fezziwig is a very friendly owl. She attends school sessions and birthday parties at the Nature Centre and is looking forward to meeting all of our visitors in the new presentation area at Tilgate in the summer. We’re sure you’ll agree she’s a beautiful bird…even if she started out rather ugly!