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Live owls await you at the Canadian Museum of Nature

Hooooo wants to meet some new friends?

 OTTAWA, July 28, 2021—Owls have long fascinated people, but most folks will never have the chance to see one up close. Now, the public can enjoy these mesmerizing creatures in a new outdoor exhibition of live owls at the Canadian Museum of Nature. Owls Rendez-vous opens to the public on July 28, 2021.  

Created in partnership with Little Ray’s Nature Centres, the exhibition presents birds of prey, known as raptors: a Great Horned Owl, Eurasian Eagle-owl, Barn Owl, two Snowy Owls, and one Bald Eagle.   

“Live animals provide a wonderful way to engage in and appreciate nature,” says Ailsa Barry, Vice-President, Experience and Engagement, at the Canadian Museum of Nature. “Our past live-animal exhibitions have been enormously popular with visitors, providing valuable educational opportunities to inform about conservation issues as well.”

Each bird in this exhibition has a story, and cannot be released into the wild. The Bald Eagle was rescued after sustaining an injury on the prairies. Having lost one-third of her wing, she can no longer fly well enough to hunt.  The Barn Owl—an endangered species in Ontario—was bred at Little Ray’s Nature Centres in Ottawa.  

The exhibition includes colourful panels with information about the five bird species on display, including some interesting facts about raptors’ amazing adaptations. Special feathers allow for silent flight, and they have razor-sharp talons. The grip strength of a Great Horned Owl’s talons, for example, is about four times that of a human. Owls also have an acute sense of hearing, with which they can locate the sound of a quietly rustling mouse and catch it for a meal.  

Raptors also face threats to their survival, such as habitat loss. Actions are suggested to help owls live alongside humans, such as protecting nesting sites, supporting sustainable forestry practices and eliminating pesticide use.   

The 24-metre (80 ft.) long year-round exhibition, which will be on view for about three years, has been installed outside on the museum’s south plaza. Each of the five enclosures is three metres (10 ft.) high and close to four metres (12 ft.) deep. The habitats all have a roof covering and were specially designed to protect the birds from Ottawa’s weather in all seasons. 

Museum animal care staff have received training from Little Ray’s zookeepers to provide daily care for the birds: feeding them a diet of mostly rodents, cleaning their habitats and interacting with them. Periodic veterinary visits are also part of the routine.

This is the second time that the museum has partnered with Little Ray’s Nature Centres for a special live-animal exhibition. In 2018, the museum and “Little Ray’s” presented Survival of the Slowest, a popular exhibition featuring a sloth and other animals with special adaptation strategies. Survival of the Slowest in now touring to other museums and science centres across North America.

Access to Owls Rendez-vous is included with museum admission. Due to physical distancing requirements, capacity is limited. Visitors must purchase their tickets in advance (online at nature.ca). Masks are mandatory at all times in the museum’s galleries and other public spaces as well as at this outdoor owls exhibition. Physical distancing of two metres between household “bubbles” is required.

Located at 240 McLeod Street in Ottawa, the museum is open Wednesday to Thursday from 10 am to 4 pm, and until 7 pm on ThursdayNOTE: the first hour (from 10 am – 11 am) on Thursday and Sunday is reserved for members. 

Visit the museum’s social media channels: Twitter (@museumofnature), Instagram (museumofnature), facebook.com/Canadianmuseumofnature and YouTube.  

Interesting facts!  

  • There are 500 species of raptors around the world. 
  • Owls are an ancient bird group; their oldest fossils date back to the time just after the dinosaurs.  
  • Owls are widespread, with native species on every continent except Antarctica.  
  • In Canada, there are 16 species of owls. 
  • Owls are divided into two families: Strigidae (typical owls), with 220 species, and Tytonidae (barn-owls), with 20 species. 
  • The Great Horned Owl is a fierce hunter, consuming the equivalent of about 1,800 field mice per year. 
  • The Snowy Owl is one of the few migrating owls.  
  • A group of owls is called a parliament of owls, as these creatures were considered symbols of wisdom.  
  • There are 1,700 owl specimens in the museum’s national bird collection of 100,000 specimens. 

   Visit nature.ca/owls !

Media contact:

Dan Smythe
Head, Media Relations
Canadian Museum of Nature
613.698.9253
dsmythe@nature.ca