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Last Updated: Monday, 23 June, 2003, 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK
Owls of joy over rare chicks
Boris the eagle owl
Boris is popular with the birds
A Siberian eagle owl is experiencing the delights of fatherhood thanks to an eye operation thought to be the first of its kind in the world.

Boris recently sired two chicks with Pushkin the owl, four years after the operation to remove his cataracts that saved his love life.

The vet who carried it out, Paul Evans of the Eye Veterinary Clinic near Leominster in Herefordshire, told BBC News Online that, without his sight, Boris' natural urges were not forthcoming.

He said that a male Siberian owl gets in the mood for love when he views the plumage of a female bird.

Nadia was his first love but he went for the younger woman
Angela Roberts
Head keeper

"Sight is important and when Boris's returned the hormones went racing," said the vet.

"If he couldn't see, she would have gone into plumage and he would ignore her."

Siberian eagle owls are an endangered species.

Angela Roberts, the head keeper at the Screech Owl Sanctuary at St Columb, in Cornwall, where Boris lives, said he has earned a reputation as something of a cad.

Affections cooled

Since his eye operation in 1999, Boris had enjoyed several liaisons with an owl called Nadia, although they did not produce any live offspring.

But as soon as he saw Pushkin, the rare owl's affections for Nadia cooled.

Ms Roberts told BBC News Online: "Nadia was his first wife, but he went for the younger woman."

She added that Boris was adapting to fatherhood well and that it was hoped there would be more chicks next spring.



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