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Owl, kori bustard chicks hatch at National Zoo

Tuesday - 6/26/2012, 2:42pm  ET

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The zoo's kori bustard chicks are being hand-raised by zookeepers. (Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institute)

WASHINGTON - Two burrowing owl chicks and two kori bustard chicks hatched at the Smithsonian National Zoo in the past month.

Zoo officials say visitors can easily identify the owl chicks, born on May 24, by their lack of white bars and spots that the adult owls have in their plumage. At almost five weeks old, they are now able to jump, flap their wings and take short flights.

The burrowing owl is the smallest owl species in North America. Zoo officials say the average adult is just slightly larger than an American robin.

Zookeepers are hand-raising the kori bustard chicks inside the Bird House. This gives the chicks a better chance at successful breeding late in life while avoiding potential conflicts with other wild birds of prey on the zoo's grounds, according to the zoo.

The chicks have a specialized diet and a strict feeding schedule, according to zoo officials. They won't be exhibited until late August, but visitors can see their parents at the kori bustard exhibit outside of the Bird House.

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