Rare owlet born at Lothian bird centre

Miska will stay at the centre as part of its display team. Picture: SWNS
Miska will stay at the centre as part of its display team. Picture: SWNS
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The birth of a rare owlet has been celebrated by staff at a Lothian bird centre - after becoming the first to be bred there.

Pictures show Tengmalm's owl Miska exploring her new surroundings at the Scottish Owl Centre.

Miska the owlet, at the Scottish Owl Centre in Whitburn. Picture: SWNS

Miska the owlet, at the Scottish Owl Centre in Whitburn. Picture: SWNS

Named after Swedish naturalist Peter Gustaf Tengmalm, Miska and her three siblings are the first Tengmalm's owls to be born at the centre, which is part of Polkemmet Country Park, in Whitburn.

Due to its shyness and evasive reaction to human activities, the breed is one of the least seen owls in both North America and Europe.

Senior keeper, Trystan Williams, said Miska would be kept at the centre while the other three birds go to breeding programmes.

"It's the first time we have bred them at the centre," he added. "Three of the chicks have stayed with mum and dad in the aviary and will go off to breading programmes, some as far as Italy.

The bird will very quickly grow to adult size. Picture: SWNS

The bird will very quickly grow to adult size. Picture: SWNS

"Miska will stay with us as part of our display team.

"The chicks are a chocolate brown colour - they don't even look real, which is why we named her Miska which mean little bear. Everyone at the centre has been really excited about the births."

He said it would not take the owlets long to grow to the size of their adult parents, who weigh around 109 grams.

"The Tengmalm owl was once the most common bird in Europe but now they are very rare in the UK," he said.

"This year was the first time one had been seen in Scotland in the wild for 100 years, so it's nice timing for us to have the birth of these four.

"They can get blown by storms and turn up in the Scottish islands."