Six-week-old Rupert and Ruby are the baby great horned owls. They were born in captivity in rural Houston, Minnesota.
Their parents, Rusty and Iris, live about 200 feet away, in a breeding center built by Karla Bloem.
Both Rusty and Iris have damage to their eyes, and would not survive in the wild. So Bloem built a home specifically for them. She has permits from the Department of Natural Resources to breed the owls and study their vocalization. The study is the first if its kind.
Bloem said she "Studied as much as I could with Alice, my education owl, in the [Houston] Nature Center. But there was just so much to learn, there was no way you could learn without breeding them in captivity."
At two weeks old, Rupert and Ruby were separated from their parents so they could be raised by humans. "If you start it from the time they're young, then they're completely comfortable with people and it will give them the most comfortable life possible," Bloem said.
After they have developed, they will be placed at educational facilities to teach people about owls. Bloem will be able to track their voices over time to see if they change.
Rupert or Ruby may eventually be educational ambassadors at the International Owl Center. Plans for the center are still in the making, and the goal is to move into a temporary building this Summer.
Until then, Rupert and Ruby will grow up at home, preparing for their school days ahead.
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