Meet Machrihanish, Scottish Owl Centre’s newest addition

Machrihanish, the short-eared owl.
Machrihanish, the short-eared owl.

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The Scottish Owl Centre, which started in Campbeltown in 2003 and relocated to West Lothian in 2011, has just bred the first short-eared owl in captivity in Scotland.

And it is one of only a handful to be bred in captivity anywhere in the world.

The new owl has been named Machrihanish, or Mac for short, because the short-eared owls at Machrihanish airfield were a major factor in inspiring Rod Angus to establish the Scottish Owl Centre.

Rod and his wife Niccy, who lived in Kintyre for 25 years, founded the Scottish Owl Centre at their home at the former Witchburn Hospital after Rod was inspired by his survey of Kintyre Barn Owls and his study of the short-eared owls at RAF Machrihanish in the 1990s.

He wrote his Masters dissertation on how to enhance the habitat for both species at the Beinn an Tuirc Wind Farm in 2001.

The Scottish Owl Centre in West Lothian acquired a pair of young captive bred short-eared owls from Belgium in 2016 but they are notoriously hard to breed in captivity.

Rod and the keepers at the centre went to great lengths to ensure their aviary replicated their natural habitat as much as possible, and this year their efforts have finally paid off.

The Scottish Owl Centre staff are delighted with the healthy young chick and all agreed that Machrihanish, or Mac, was the only appropriate name.

Mac is now being trained to take part in the daily flying displays. Anyone travelling to the central belt can go and see Mac and his 150 owl friends at the four-star visitor attraction right beside M8 Junction 4A.