Owls are notoriously lazy when it comes to building a nest. In fact, they don’t make their own nests but will make use of an abandoned nest left by a hawk or eagle. Sometimes these nests are not in great shape so it is not uncommon for a young owl to fall from these structurally unsound nests. This may have been the case for the barred owlet who came to Wild ARC in the spring. He was found by a concerned citizen who discovered him huddled with his eyes closed at the base of a tree on her property. The finder immediately knew something was wrong and called Wild ARC for help. She managed to contain the young bird and brought him directly to Wild ARC for care.
Staff at Wild ARC found this poor owlet to be quite dehydrated, small for his age and infested with parasite eggs on his feathers and maggots in his ears. The parasite load was so extreme that their removal had to be done in multiple stages and medication was needed to eliminate the parasites and prevent infection in the ears. His left wing was also drooping slightly but thankfully there was no fracture. Staff wrapped his wing for support and it showed improvement in just a few days.
This young owlet had to remain in care at Wild ARC for almost two weeks to ensure he was at a healthy weight and his parasite load was under control. Caring for this young owl wasn’t easy as he was reluctant to self-feed, most likely due to the stress of being away from his parents. Despite efforts to encourage him to feed by playing barred owl calls and including an owl stuffy for a companion, the owl refused to eat on his own and staff had to force feed him. Due to his reluctance to eat, Wild ARC staff were eager to reunite this baby with his parents who were still in the area where he was found. However, two weeks is a long time to be away from his family and it was uncertain if a reunion would be successful.
Wild ARC works closely with Jeff Krieger at Alternative Wildlife Solutions, an AnimalKind accredited company that works to humanely solve wildlife issues. Jeff brought the owlet out to the nest site and placed him on the ground while he secured a laundry basket to a tree to serve as a false nest close to the original nest. The mother barred owl didn’t take long to spot her baby on the ground and kept a close watch on him as Jeff worked. Once the false nest was in place, Jeff placed the owlet in the basket and stood back to see if mom would return to her baby. Almost immediately, the mother owl flew over and began preening her baby’s feathers. Observers saw the owlet being cared for by his parents for several weeks after this successful reunion.
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