Projects:Response of captive owls to playback calls

Enrichment or just annoying?

Introduction and rationale:

As a group, raptors have largely been neglected in terms of developing enrichment methods.

Due to their largely nocturnal habits and general inactivity during daylight hours, owls present a significant challenge for the development of enrichment techniques.

The acute hearing of owls suggests that audio stimulation might provide a method to positively modify owl behaviour in captivity.

Aim: To assess the potential of audio stimulation as a means of enrichment for owls


  • Report of test results and recommendations as to the suitability of playback as an enrichment method for owls
  • Presentations and publications in relevant areas


  • Improved husbandry and welfare of captive owls
  • Additional and interesting information for visitors

Comments: Key behavioural changes would include altered activity budgets and vocal responses. An assessment of ‘stress’ and what constitutes ‘enrichment’ will be made.

Update: This project was completed recently by researcher Laura Keighley, and is being written up.

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