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Conservation

Bird fans asked to be quiet around nesting site of owl family in Hong Kong

Sighting of seven of the highly elusive nocturnal birds has attracted a wave of visitors, sparking concerns over the animals being stressed out

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 May, 2018, 10:00pm
UPDATED : Monday, 07 May, 2018, 11:10pm

Photography enthusiasts have flocked to capture shots of owls recently spotted nesting on trees in Lok Wah Street Playground in Wong Tai Sin, Hong Kong.

A group of seven collared scops owls, or Otus lettia, comprising a mating pair and their five offspring were found residing in a tree hole. The feathered family has been drawing crowds of bird watchers and photographers.

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The species is widely distributed across the city but rarely sighted as they are nocturnal birds and frequent remote woodlands for nesting, according to Hong Kong Bird Watching Society’s senior conservation officer Woo Ming-chuan.

At about 6.30am on Monday, police were called in after some overzealous visitors were reported to have used flashlights while taking pictures, and placing the birds under stress.

[The visits] are actually a nuisance to them
Woo Ming-chuan, Bird Watching Society

The society suggested that the public refrain from visiting the area to catch a glimpse of the owls as they were in the midst of the breeding season from March till June.

“[The visits] are actually a nuisance to them. The owls need room ... If there is too much disturbance, it is possible the parents may abandon their young and the baby owls will starve,” Woo warned.

According to the society, this wasn’t the first time the area has been used by the owl species to nest. At least one other case has been reported in recent years.

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department, which manages the site, said it had stepped up patrols by officers to prevent disturbances to the owls. The trees used by the animals have been cordoned off since they were sighted on April 25.