Monday, February 16, 2015

maryville's twice rescued owlet

Orphaned owlet alone back in nest.
Photo: Janet McKnight
Perhaps all great horned owlets look like they need rescuing. They do resemble stuffed animals at a county fair. This owlet was saved twice. 

After the first premature rescue, wildlife officials returned the owlet to its nest in the hopes its parents would return. 

After all, the best parents for a baby bird is its real parents.

By law it had to sit there 36 hours with no sign of either parent attending it before it could be truly rescued. It was a tense 36 hours. I kept in touch with people on the scene. A wildlife official watched from a truck parked nearby.

The tension ramped up when the temperature dipped into the mid-20s last Thursday evening—its last night on the nest. Would it survive until Friday the 13th, traditionally feared as an unlucky day? Many worried it would freeze to death or starve even though the same wildlife officials had placed proper food in the nest for it. 

I feared the worst, my thoughts were with it. I felt the shiver. Janet McKnight sent me a photo oozing with pathos. Stoic little thing. Now all alone on the nest braving the cold. Three weeks old and all alone.   

Did its parents stay in the area, even though their nest had been emptied two days earlier? Would they come back one last time to check?

In the end, 36 hours passed and no parent returned. The wildlife official climbed back up the tree and, this time, rescued the owlet for real. 

It was taken to a local rehabber to care for. They will keep human contact to a minimum. But can it be habituated to return to the wild? Maybe, but it is not easy with no real avian parents to tutor it on the ways of the world. More than likely it will spend the rest of its healthy life in a cage. Perhaps we should name it "Pathos." 

Thanks to all who kept me informed. 

1 comment:

Dorothy said...

Owls are funny and cute big birds! I've never had the opportunity to photograph one, though.