”Chick D” and parent. Supplied

VIDEO: Milestone for Langley-based Spotted Owl breeding program

A chick born in captivity has just left the nest

Chick “D” left the nest for the first time Tuesday morning (May 30) at the Northern Spotted Owl (NSO) breeding program in Langley.

The fuzzy fledgling didn’t get very far, biologist Karen McKeogh said.

“It cannot fly, it sort of hops,” McKeogh said.

The chick is now able to perch on a tree branch in its family pen in the breeding centre, a sprawling 25-acre compound of spacious breeding enclosures near Fort Langley.

“If you’ve ever seen an owl on a branch, they kind of tip-toe,” McKeogh said.

“It’s cute.”

It was another milestone moment for the non-profit centre that is trying to save the northern spotted owl from extinction by breeding them in captivity for eventual release back into the wild.

The webcam that streams video of the chick was relocated on Wednesday to allow viewers to better follow the growing owl’s progress.

It can viewed at http://fwcp.ca/.

The owlet doesn’t have a name because its gender won’t be known until it is older and a blood test can be performed.

Whatever the name is, it will start with a “D” , McKeogh said.

The centre aims to have the baby owls return to the wild, ideally producing 10 to 20 young each year that will be released into over 300,000 hectares of protected old-growth forest in the Pemberton area.

The program has been managed and delivered with financial support from the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program (www.fwcp.ca), a partnership to conserve and enhance fish and wildlife between BC Hydro, the provincial government, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, First Nations and other stakeholders.

People interested in touring the centre can email nsobreedingprogram@gmail.com.

Prospective volunteers can also contact the program at that address.

There is a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/nsobreedingprogram/ and people can donate to the program there.

On June 24, 2017 the centre will hold its summer fundraiser from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the St. Nicholas Parish gym in Walnut Grove to celebrate a successful 2017 breeding season.

All proceeds from ticket sales and other activities will go directly to the NSO breeding program.

Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for students or seniors, and children eight and under are free.

All tickets must be purchased in advance by email nsobreedingprogram@gmail.com or a Facebook message.

There will be a barbecue dinner catered by Custom Catering and a raffle with prizes from Boston Pizza, Grouse Mountain Resort, Starbucks, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Safeway, Township 7 Vineyards and Winery, Toy Traders, MEC, A.Bucci Photography, Vancouver Water Adventures and The Keg Steakhouse + Bar.