First ever band-bellied owl chick to be born in the UK shows off its golden fluffy feathers in first public outing

  • A band-bellied owl has made its first public outing at the Scottish Owl Centre
  • The rare bird, native to South America, is the first of its kind to be born in the UK
  • The hatchling has fluffy gold feathers and a black mask fanning behind its eyes

A rare band-bellied owl - the first to ever be born in the UK - has made its first public appearance.

The chick, who is only eight weeks old, showed off its fluffy golden feathers alongside its protective parents at the Scottish Owl Centre in Whitburn, West Lothian.

The hatchling, who is set to undergo a DNA test to find out its sex, has a black mask fanning out behind its eyes that contrast its honey-hued plume.  

Staff at the centre got a sneak peek of the bird a few weeks ago when it poked its head out of the nest before its one of its protective parents, who are dark brown with cream stripes on their bellies, ushered it back inside.

A rare band-bellied owl - the first to ever be born in the UK - has gone on its first public appearance at the Scottish Owl Centre in Whitburn, West Lothian

A rare band-bellied owl - the first to ever be born in the UK - has gone on its first public appearance at the Scottish Owl Centre in Whitburn, West Lothian

Keeper Lauren Walker, 25, said: 'I think it wanted to leave the nest much earlier but the parents would not let this happen.

'It came out a few weeks ago but the parents made it go back in. The pair are so protective.

'The baby is covered in golden fluff. It's about 12 inches tall with its fluff but we've not had a chance to weigh it yet.

'It is the first band-bellied owl to be born in the UK and we are so happy to have it here.

The hatchling, who has a black mask fanning out behind its eyes that contrast its honey-hued plume (right), made its first public outing with one of its protective parents, who are dark brown with cream stripes on their bellies (left)

The hatchling, who has a black mask fanning out behind its eyes that contrast its honey-hued plume (right), made its first public outing with one of its protective parents, who are dark brown with cream stripes on their bellies (left)

'People visiting really enjoy seeing it, they say it's really cute. We all wanted to get some champagne to celebrate.

Ms Walker added: 'To feed it we put chicken, mice and rats in the aviary and the parents collect it and give it to the baby.'

Very little is known about the elusive species which is native to the wilds of South America, on the slopes of the Andes mountains in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Bolivia.

Very little is known about the elusive species which is native to the wilds of South America, on the slopes of the Andes mountains, but keepers are hoping to learn more about the species as the grows and becomes familiar with its environment

Very little is known about the elusive species which is native to the wilds of South America, on the slopes of the Andes mountains, but keepers are hoping to learn more about the species as the grows and becomes familiar with its environment

But keepers are hoping to learn more about the species as the chick, which is yet been named, grows and becomes familiar with its environment.

Ms Walker said: 'Not much is known about the band-bellied owl so it will be interesting to see it grow up here.

'No one knows about their wild habits but we know that they are very difficult to find in the wild. They are well camouflaged and there is not many of them to find,' she added.

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First band-bellied owl chick to be born in the UK shows off its golden fluffy feathers

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