In 2013 we let Rusty and Iris raise their three owlets to be completely wild, with only the minimum human interaction necessary. The owlets were released to the wild in the fall after developing their adult territorial hoots, wearing transmitters so we could track their dispersal.
In 2014 we let Rusty and Iris raise their owlets until 2 weeks of age. Then we hand-reared them to become education ambassador owls with a lot of human attention and interaction. We compared their vocal development to the development of the parent-reared owlets to see if it was similar or different due to rearing methods. They have now been transferred over to education permits and will work for the International Owl Center doing educational programs in person. Having them in long-term captivity will allow us to track their voices over their lifetime to see if their territorial hoots are stable or change over time.
Since the goal of this project is research, and research requires analyzing data and publishing, we will not raise owlets in 2015. This will allow time to work on publishing, as well as getting the Owl Center ready to open to the public. Iris's eggs will be switched out for replica eggs after she has finished laying, and we will continue to observe her nesting behavior as well as how long she will sit on the eggs before abandoning them.