Great Horned Owlet #17-1135

Admission Date: 
May 27, 2017
Release Date: 
October 11, 2017
Location of Rescue: 
Chincoteague Island, Virginia
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Fell from nest
Patient Status: 
Patient Archive

On May 27, the Wildlife Center admitted another baby Great Horned Owl. This young owl was found down on the ground on Chincoteague Island; the bird was taken to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator for treatment before it was transferred to the Wildlife Center.

The veterinary team performed a physical examination upon admission and found a closed, calloused fracture of the owl's gnathotheca, or lower beak. It's likely that the bird fractured its beak when it fell from the nest; fortunately, it was already healing and no further treatment was needed. During the next few days, the team monitored the owl's beak closely, to make sure it was still well-aligned. The owl was eating well, and no problems were noted.

The bird was moved in a crate to one of the Center's flight pens, where it could slowly acclimate to Papa G'Ho, the Center's Great Horned Owl surrogate, along with two other baby Great Horned Owls. New owlets are typically slowly introduced to the family before they leave the crate and have direct access to Papa and the other owlets.

The newest owlet will spend time with its new family in the coming months; young owlets are typically released in the fall, at the time of year when they'd naturally be dispersing from their parents. The owlets will have plenty of practice catching live food in the coming months, in preparation for when they are on their own later this year.

This young owl will require months of care -- including a lot of food! Your special donation will help support the care of this owlet -- and his new family!


October 12, 2017

Great Horned Owlets #17-1135 and 17-0885 both had their pre-release blood work done earlier this week; both received clearance for release from the veterinary team!

On Wednesday, October 11, the owls were picked up by a volunteer transporter and were taken back to the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Prior to their departure, wildlife rehabilitator Brie banded the two owlets, and also sharpened their talons and beaks to help them be effective hunters. After five months of rehabilitation, the staff is happy to send these birds back to the wild!

Great Horned Owl #17-1135, all grown up:


Great Horned Owl #17-0885:



October 7, 2017

All three young Great Horned Owls have been flying very well – each is strong in flight, and also is silent, which is an important requirement for owl releases. On October 3, Papa G’Ho officially finished his surrogate duties for the year, and was moved to a C-pen enclosure; each of the young owls was moved to separate flight pens for mouse school practice and additional exercise. Rehabilitation intern Shannon said that the live-prey testing is off to a great start; the owls have passed three nights so far, and should finish the rest of their testing this weekend.

After the owls pass mouse school, they’ll each have blood drawn for a pre-release health check. If all goes well, the owls should be able to be released within the next two weeks.

September 26, 2017

The Great Horned Owl family – Papa G’Ho and his three young foster owlets – has been doing well these past few weeks. On September 9, the family was moved to flight pen A2, so that the young owls could have more room as they practice flying.

Wildlife rehabilitator Brie reports that all three birds are flying well – they are silent in flight, and are gaining more stamina. They are currently each flying about five to 10 passes during each exercise session, and will increase the number of passes in the coming weeks. The owlets have been practicing “mouse school” once a week during the summer so that they can watch Papa and his hunting skills, and so they have a chance to practice their own skills. As the owls get closer to release, each will need to pass an official five-day course of mouse school, to prove that each can successfully catch its own food.


June 22, 2017

Great Horned Owlets #17-0363, #17-0885, and #17-1135 are doing well; they are flying and eating consistently on their own.

As of June 21, Papa G'Ho and his three owlets are housed together in one of the outdoor flight pens. When an appropriate, larger enclosure becomes available (likely one of the "A-pens"), the rehabilitation staff will move the four birds; the larger space will give the growing family more room and space for the young birds to practice flying.

The family will remain together until the owlets are eventually separated for individual live-prey testing in preparation for a fall release.