This morning we had a nice family bring in a young great horned owl to The Raptor Center (left). The great horned owl was about a month old and was on his third trip in to the clinic. Young owls go through a "brancher" stage when their feet are large and incredibly strong, but they are still not ready to fly. Since adult owls don't construct a nest and often take over an old red-tailed hawk or squirrel nest, they aren't the most stable of homes to begin with. Throw in one or two rambunctious youngsters and a few windy winter storms and the nest usually falls apart. Young owls use their strong feet and talons to climb trees or "branch out". They are often found on the ground and their parents will still feed and take care of them, even if they are way below the original nest or if the nest is gone completely.
This is the time of year when we get an influx of young owls at TRC, when caring people find them on the ground and bring them in. Today's owl must live in one of the most caring neighborhoods out there, since this is the third neighbor to bring it in. No matter where it gets put in a tree, it keeps popping up on the ground, it's moving around quite a bit. The first thing TRC does with a young olw is to make sure there are no broken bones, then we will talk to whoever brought in the owl and try to put it back in the nest. We have professional tree climbers on our volunteer staff who will climb just about anything to get those dudes back with their parents. Sometimes, they will just put it on a high branch and let the parents do the rest. If it is not possible to get the young owl back to its original nest spot, we will deposit it into another owl nest (of the same species of course)--fortunately, adult owls can't count and will feed anyone begging in their nest.
Let's hope this is that little owl's last trip to TRC.
Last week I reported about the hormones and vocalizations of the education raptors in the courtyard and the red-tailed hawk who laid an egg. The egg was taken out when one of the cleaning crew members got chased around by the red-tail--one of the many reasons we don't wear open toed shoes around the birds. This week, our education one-eyed golden eagle laid an egg (right). She has that look that says, "I dare ya', I dare ya' to come in and take this one."
Had fun tonight, NBB and I went out to chase timber doodles. I love looking for woodcocks on a cold spring night. It's so fun listening for the first "peent"--it starts right at clockwork, 15 minutes after sunset, you hear the first one--then dozens get going. If you live in the metro area, Carver Park on the west side of town is pretty reliable for watching woodcocks.