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The adventures of a young eagle-owl in Collserola

The eagle-owl <i>Piju</i> was found in a path in Sant Cugat del Vallès.

The eagle-owl Piju was found in a path in Sant Cugat del Vallès.

Professor Joan Real leads the Conservation Biology Group (UB-IRBio), a leading reference in the research on ecology of raptors.

Professor Joan Real leads the Conservation Biology Group (UB-IRBio), a leading reference in the research on ecology of raptors.

Could the experts find a couple of wild eagle-owls so that they could foster the young eagle-owl?

Could the experts find a couple of wild eagle-owls so that they could foster the young eagle-owl?

15/05/2018

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This bird, named Piju, is not even three months old yet. The young eagle-owl was found in a path in Sant Cugat del Vallès and came back to its natural habitat throughout an operation in which the Conservation Biology Group of the Faculty of Biology and the Biodiversity Research Institute of the University of Barcelona (IRBio) had a determining role. 

 

The story of this young bird, from the Bubo bubo species, started on April 3, when a man who was walking around found it malnourished and weak in the middle of a footpath in Sant Cugat del Vallès. Thanks to citizen collaboration, this 40-day old bird was brought to the Centre de Fauna de Torreferrusa of Generalitat de Catalunya, in Santa Perpètua de la Mogoda, where it was assisted by veterinarians and experts.

An indicator of environmental quality

The eagle-owl is an indicator species of environmental quality in the environment, a big predator that lives in areas where it can find preys. Today, electrocution and rodenticides are the big threats to the conservation of these birds, which are also victims of accidents, asphyxiation, shots and crashes into electric cables and fences.

While Piju’s recovery goes forward in Torreferrosa, its nest and progenitors are being searched for in the area of the Collserola Natural Park. An abandoned nest was found –near an illegal photography spot- but there were no signals of the adult birds. Since it has no parents, this young bird will not undergo its flying and hunting learning processes, which are essential for his survival. Therefore, its future options display many doubts among the experts: is it best for the bird to release it into the nature with assistance or should they bring it to a center as a captive bird?

What will Piju’s future be?

“Young eagle-owls spend about four months with the parents until they empancipate. Also, when they are young, the species are sensitive to human presence (sportspeople, journeyperson, etc.)”, says Joan Real, head of the Conservation Biology Group of the UB and member of the Department of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences and the IRBio. This team -well known regarding research on the ecology of birds of prey since 1980- was contacted by Centre de Torreferrusa to work on the best solution for Piju.

The UB-IRBio experts, who have been studying for years a B. bubo population in Vallès Occidental, thought about an ideal solution: they had to find a couple of wild eagle-owls with young birds aged like Piju so that they could foster it in a natural way. However, is it possible to find two owls with these features in the metropolitan area?

Please visit this link if you want to find out about the work by the experts of the Conservation Biology Group of the UB on their search for Piju’s fostering family in Collserola. 

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