“There’s a camera watching me… for all the world to see”

The Verreaux Eagle Owl on her tyre nest

In a first ever, a Verreaux Eagle Owl, or commonly known as the giant eagle owl, can now be watched live as she raises a newly hatched owlet in the most unusual nest ever… a tyre!

The owl occupied the tyre nest in a tree on a game farm near Brits about a month ago, and an owl conservation company decided to record this unusual sight for the whole world to see. A single owlet hatched last weekend and the 24-hour live stream has caused much excitement in conservation circles.

“I released a Wahlberg’s Eagle on the game farm about three years ago and decided to put a bakkie tyre with sticks in a tree for the bird to rest, or to see if anything occupies the tyre nest. It was actually just for fun,’ says Jonathan Haw, owner of EcoSolutions, a company that specialises in owl and bat conservation.

About a month ago, Jonathan received a call from a very excited resident on the game farm informing him that a Verreaux Eagle Owl is peeping from the tyre. “We thought it would be a great educational project to install a camera that can record and stream the breeding and hatching of an owlet.”

Getting the camera up in the right spot was easier said than done. The owl could not be disturbed too much for fear that she would abandon her single egg. After days of very carefully working around this, the camera and live feed was finally up, but elephants decided to throw a spanner in the works and the same night ripped the installation from the tree.

“We thought we were going to miss the egg hatching, but just made it.” The camera was up and running on Thursday and on Saturday the owlet showed its feathers!

Since then, thousands of people have been watching the giant eagle owl daily, hoping for a peep of the owlet. This usually happens between 16:15 and 17:00 when mother owl fetches food for the two of them.

“It is a great educational tool and has now also become an exiting project for various schools. We have decided to do more projects like these and will probably have a live feed running from an occupied Spotted Eagle-Owl box next week,” Haw says.

To watch mommy owl and her owlet live, visit www.ecosolutions.co.za. It is worth the wait to see the little one spread its wings!