Page last updated at 08:01 GMT, Tuesday, 7 April 2009 09:01 UK

Rare owl birth brings joy to park

Baby owls
The baby owls should be flying for the public by August

Two rare owls born at a park in Devon have increased their numbers in England to 11, their breeders have said.

The Russian Siberian Turkemanian Eagle Owls were born at the Woodlands family park near Dartmouth.

Staff at the park said the parent owls, Katrina and Rasputin, were "very excited and protective" when the owlets hatched about two weeks ago.

The brother and sister are now being hand-reared by two falconers at the park.

Feeding the chicks every four hours by hand is a bit tough
Geoff Pearson, Falconer

Although the chicks' parents have been looking after the pair, park staff have also been involved in their rearing to help them trust humans.

Their work will help the chicks get ready to take part in falconry displays.

Geoff Pearson, one of the falconers, said: "Lyn and I are being foster mums to the baby chicks.

"We take care of them day and night.

"They are to be kept at a precise temperature, not too hot and not too cold.

"Feeding the chicks every four hours by hand is a bit tough, at least they don't wear nappies, but they do have to be cleaned and picked up for cuddling."

Woodlands staff said the owlets will be looked after at the park's Falconry Centre office.

Russian Siberian Turkemanian Eagle Owls are a rare hybrid breed not found in the wild.

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