rehabilitated owls

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Had a cool surprise in conservation bio today! The biologist that came to speak about owl conservation has this gorgeous barred owl that was rehabilitated after being hit by a car. Due to her friendliness and lack of depth perception (she lost lens) she couldn’t be released and now lives with the biologist! She’s 3 and a half and her name is Kernel. She was very soft and sweet!!

Hey who wants to talk about Eastern screech owl color morphs??

These tiny murder machines are orphaned babies in rehabilitation at the center where I volunteer (WildCare Inc, Bloomington IN). They have another foster sibling too, grey morph like the cutie in the middle except smaller and darker. Anyway, this photo was taken a month or so ago and the owlets have grown up a lot since then, and they’re now in an outdoor aviary learning to fly and hunt!

We get a lot of Eastern screech owls here (southern Indiana). Most are the grey morph, although not as overwhelmingly as in the northern part of their range (eastern Canada). This year’s batch of orphans is fascinating to look at because they all look so different that I don’t need to look at their leg bands to tell them apart!

Starting from the back: little red morph. Even as a tiny baby, this bird has always had reddish tones in its feathers. It’s smaller than the others, which could indicate that it’s male, but red morph owls tend to be smaller in general, so who (whooooo) knows.

In the middle we have “great grey.” Haha, not actually a great grey owl, but she’s a grey morph and she weighs more than her adult foster parent! Without a DNA test I can’t say for sure that she’s female, but it’s a fairly safe guess. This bird barely survived, actually. The tree her nest was in fell during a storm, and she and a sibling (who didn’t survive) were found on the ground, soaking wet and barely responsive. When she came in, I picked her up and she didn’t even move or open her eyes, and I only knew she was alive because I felt her breathing. She was probably about 10-12 days old. We got her in a cozy heated nest box and by the end of the week she was vocalizing and eating pretty well. Until she stopped. Volunteers noted on her chart that she wasn’t taking food, and when I fed her I could get her to eat the tiniest pieces - which she did very enthusiastically - but anything bigger than a mouse heart she’d just hold in her beak and eventually drop. I started to worry because I know that by that age they should be able to swallow surprisingly big pieces of food, and I knew she wasn’t eating overnight because her weight started to drop. She obviously wanted to eat, judging by how ravenously she ate the tiny pieces. I suspected that there might be something wrong with her mouth or throat, and bingo… we examined her and found an ulcer in her throat. Poor baby. Most likely her immune system was still compromised from her rough start and hypothermia. We hydrated her and started a course of medicine, and within a week she was eating again! By then she had a couple foster siblings, which I think helped, and we had our Eastern screech owl foster parent living with the babies too. At the babies’ most recent weight check, “great grey” was the biggest of the bunch and eating very well!

In the front we have a really gorgeous bird, an intermediate brown morph. Eastern screech owls aren’t only red or grey! This little one actually has some really fascinating coloring on the wings, dark brown with some rusty-red coverts. I’ve seen light brown morphs before but this owlet is darker and mottled and really gorgeous.

Their faces all look different too! It’s so cool how different birds of the same species, all approximately the same age, can look so incredibly unique. 😍

All four babies are doing great and on track to be released back into the wild once they learn how to hunt prey!

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Our little owl has a home!

Our beautiful young little owl has been the subject of much debate recently, but the time has finally come for it to go back where it belongs.

We have been working with another rehabilitation centre, who will get our youngster ‘adopted’ by a wild family and raised for release! Little owls are surprisingly tolerant of newcomers and will often raise the new arrival as their own.

Our owl is being driven to its new home by our vet, Angela, later tonight and we wish it the best of luck in the wild!

Some 3D art stuff: little crocheted Eastern screech owls, red and grey morphs!

No pattern, just freehand, might write down what I did before I forget it though! The beaks are embroidered (not my strongest skill haha), and the eyes are clear safety eyes hand-painted with nail polish (I used a mixture of a few yellowish/greenish polishes). Stuffing is about 60/40 plastic poly pellets and fiberfill, so they have a little weight to them!

I donated them to a raffle at a fundraiser for WildCare. At the event we also released four Eastern screech owls back into the wild (the orphans I’ve written about a couple times - all grown up and hunting for themselves now!).

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Eye injury owl update!
The tawny owl brought into us recently with a badly damaged eye is healing well. It has recently been moved into one of our secluded raptor pens for a bit more room and is flying perfectly!
We have been monitoring it with our CCTV cameras to ensure it can feed and hunt as normal, and once it has fully healed it will be back to the wild!

This is my archnemesis, Icarus.


She is an imprint Great Horned Owl, so that means she is a total punk to everyone. She is one of the best program birds, but she is super territorial with her enclosure. Even passing by her flight cage will send her flying talons-first towards your head, only to be stopped by two layers of mesh…

These three adorable screech owls are rehab birds because of trauma to their eyes, which is an important part of their ability to hunt prey like mice, insects and lizards. The owls – an Eastern screech owl on the left and two Western screech owls on the right – were part of Bird Fest 2015 at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, a day to celebrate and educate the public about birds. Wings of Discovery, a rehabilitation center nearby the park in Agoura Hills, California, is caring for these owls. Photo by National Park Service. 🐦

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Baby owls can be quite angry and definitely do not like being handled!

In this video, surgical vet nurse, Lucy, needs to move two youngsters to a larger pen to make room for a new arrival. She tries to make the move as quickly as possible, but the existing residents are quite keen to tell Lucy what they think of her!

#WAFFlashback

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Releases are some of the best parts of our work, but sometimes a release can prove very special indeed.

On a recent tawny owl release, nothing could have prepared us for the amazing sight we were to witness - to date one of the best sights we have ever seen.

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Pretty in Pink!

This beautiful tawny owl was stunned at the side of the road, most likely hit by a car.   The poor creature was very quiet and weak while the vets examined him, but luckily she was fine with no visible wounds or fractures.  After some much needed rest and recovery, the owl will be moved into one of our aviaries to continue her rehabilitation.

PSA: KEEPING OWLS AS PETS

Do not get owls as pets. As the child of an wildlife rehabilitator, Owls are NOT pets to have. I know there a lot of cute vines and videos of owls going around but DONT. KEEP. THEM. AS. PETS. 

Here is why:

1. Owls need huge outdoor cages. Keeping them indoors is cruel. Their cages need to be very big, with a nest box, and at least two perches. Owls are rather heavy for birds, so they need large branches for their perch. If they aren’t sick or injured, they also need to be flown regularity. But what’s bad is that some people will clip their wings, especially people who sell owls as pets.

2. It’s illegal without a permit. You have to register it as an education animal, and have a licence to rehabilitate. And you can only have education animals that have imprinted on humans or are physically disabled so that they are not able to be released into the wild. 

3. They are dangerous. Have you ever seen an owl’s talons? Even small owls can pierce skin deeply when alarmed. Their beaks are strong enough to break fingers. They are not safe pets, especially around children.

4. Owls make messes and destroy things. Their natural behavior is to kill, and they like to claw pillows, blankets, stuffed animals: Anything soft that they can get their talons on.

5. You can’t just feed them anything. When my family is taking care of owls, we have mice and rats, and feeding them is a disgusting process. You have to thaw the mouse, cut it open and remove the guts (Not the liver, thats a delicious treat for an owl), and slice off the meat to feed to them. Some people feed owls whole animals, and that can lead to choking, constipation, and death. 

Here are some reasons, among many more, that keeping an owl can be a cruel thing to do. If you are interested in taking care of birds, owls, or other wildlife, contact your local wildlife rehabilitation center. They usually take volunteers. This has been a short psa from sexdrugsandanime. Have a nice time blogging. 

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Luna the barred owl (right) has been with us for a long time at the center. She has been a wonderful surrogate mother to many baby barred owls, but is non-releasable due to poor vision. I finally started working with her at the center to go to events, and she’s already doing wonderfully. On the left is a new education animal, a female great horned owl (no name yet) with a permanently damaged wing due to an old fracture that healed improperly. I am incredibly happy to have the privilege of working with these guys. Fred the red-tailed hawk will always be my first bird to train for education and has taught me so much.