In Johannesburg, An Owl Family Calls a Potted Plant Home


A family of spotted eagle owls has moved into a Johannesburg famiy's balcony. Photo:">Axel Bührmann under a Creative Commons license.

In August 2009, Allan and Tracy Eccles woke up to find a spotted eagle owl sitting in a potted plant on their balcony in suburban Johannesburg, South Africa. Thus began the saga of Pot Plant Owl, who still nests there, with her mate, and is currently raising her second brood of chicks. The owls' story has turned into a veritable franchise, including a blog, a live streaming webcam, and a book (which runs at about $50). Once you get past the silliness of the whole thing, the story is quite inspiring, and it's impossible not to root for the winged family.But while the survival of these owls should be celebrated, it is important to think about why they ended up on the balcony in the first place. Johannesburg's sprawling metropolis replaced the natural habitat of the owls and many other species, and the Pot Plant Owl's family are among the lucky few to have found a new way to survive. Elsewhere in South Africa, endangered animals have had an even harder time.

But if you need a break from watching the destruction of the planet's wildlife, the Pot Plant Owl's story is a heart-warming distraction. The blog is updated regularly, and recounts the travails of the family- last week, one of the chicks fell off the balcony, but is now recovering.

More on animals adapting to urban environments:
Watch the Falcons Living in Sagrada Familia Cathedral via Web Cam
How to Deal with Unwanted Wildlife in Urban Areas
10 Unfairly Oft-Maligned Big Apple Inhabitants

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