Great Horned Owlet #18-0299

Admission Date: 
April 10, 2018
Release Date: 
October 12, 2018
Location of Rescue: 
Fauquier County, Virgina
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Fell from nest
Patient Status: 
Patient Archive

In early March, a Great Horned Owlet was blown out of its nest in Fauquier County, Virginia. Homeowners found the baby, along with its deceased sibling, and took the young bird to a wildlife rehabilitator. The bird was placed with a non-releasable surrogate Great Horned Owl about a week later and was transferred to the Wildlife Center of Virginia on April 10.

The veterinary team examined the young bird when it arrived; the bird was bright, alert, and healthy. Wildlife rehabilitator Brie estimates that this new owlet -- #18-0299 – is a little older than the other owlet [#18-0210] currently at the Center. She introduced the two owlets to each other; the crate they are housed in is currently facing a crate where Papa G’Ho, the Center’s non-releasable surrogate Great Horned Owl, is being housed.

The new owl family will be moved to an outdoor flight enclosure soon; Papa will have full use of the flight pen, though the owlets will remain in their crate for now. Depending on the weather, the owlets may still need to come inside on cold nights, until they can fully thermoregulate.

Your special donation will help the Center to provide long-term care to this baby Great Horned Owl  ... and to the 2,500 sick, injured, and orphaned wild animals the Center will treat this year.


October 11, 2018

Great Horned Owlet #18-0299 passed live-prey testing this past weekend. The young bird is flying well and silently, and the rehab staff declared the bird ready for release.

Pre-release blood work was drawn on the morning of October 9; results were within normal limits. Wildlife rehabilitator Brie banded the owl the following day. The young owl was picked up on October 11 to return to Fauquier County for release, where it was initially rescued in March. 

Then ... and now!


October 2, 2018

The four Great Horned owlets of 2018 are all doing well – each owlet is in its own flight pen for daily exercise. All four owls are flying silently and have good stamina.

The owls have been going through practice mouse school for several weeks now – the rehab staff intermittently have been providing live mice for practice sessions. Each young owl will need to pass mouse school several days in a row to be ready for release. The rehab staff hope to start this important live-prey testing later this week.

September 18, 2018

The four Great Horned Owlets have been doing well in A2 this summer. While the owls haven’t been in a “formal” exercise regimen, they have been active and flying in their large space. Now that fall is approaching, the owlets will be split up for additional exercise and live prey testing, to ensure that each young bird can successfully catch and kill its own food.

During the week of September 10, Papa G’Ho was moved into one of the Center’s C-pens – his “dad duties” are done for the year! Great Horned Owlet #18-0408 was moved to FP3, and will be the first of the owls to start undergoing individual assessment. As more flight pens become available, the other owlets in A2 will be split up for exercise and live-prey testing. If all goes well, all four owls should be able to be released in October.

July 16, 2018

The four owlets are doing well with Papa G’Ho in flight pen A2. The birds can often be seen interacting with each other on Critter Cam; they often preen each other in between their naps. The birds haven’t started a formal exercise program yet since they won’t be released until the fall, but the rehab staff has started offering “practice mouse school” on Sundays. Several live mice are left in a large tub in the flight pen in addition to the owlet’s regular meal of dead mice and rats. The live mice offer the owlets a chance to practice catching and killing their own food – a new skill for them to learn and practice during the next couple of months. At this point, the staff isn’t tracking which bird is successful at hunting; each owlet will be individually “mouse schooled” in the fall, closer to release.

May 17, 2018

The Great Horned Owlets have been doing well during the past few weeks; they have all gained weight and are growing in all of their adult flight feathers. The owls are becoming increasingly active, and on May 17 or 18 they will be moved to flight pen A2. This larger space will allow the four owlets to have more room as they start to fly more. Later this summer, the rehab staff will start exercising the owlets daily. The owlets won't be old enough for release until the fall. 

Within the past week, a Critter Cam was hung in A2, though we need to iron out a few technical issues before we can stream it! 

April 24, 2018

The Great Horned Owl family is doing well in Flight Pen 4; on Saturday, the oldest Great Horned Owlet [#18-0299] was let out of its crate. On Monday, April 23, the other two owlets came out of their crate. All three are exploring, making short flights, and are eating well. The owlets are wearing temporary colored leg bands to identify them while they are housed together; the bands will be removed this fall and replaced with permanent metal U.S. Fish & Wildlife bands prior to their release. Owlet #18-0210 is wearing a blue band; owlet #18-0408 has a yellow band, and #18-0299 doesn’t have a band.

18-0210 [blue]:

18-0299 [no band]:

18-0408 [yellow]: 

Keep an eye on Critter Cam 2 to catch a glimpse of this owl family!

April 16, 2018

Great Horned Owlets #18-0210 and 18-0299 are both doing well; they are now eating whole food [dead mice] twice a day and have both gained weight.  The rehab team reports that Papa G’Ho is getting more defensive of the babies, and has flown at the staff when the owlets were handled for weighing.

Waynesboro is still experiencing some cold springtime temperatures; the two owlets will come inside during the next couple of nights when temperatures are forecasted to reach the lower 30’s. The owlets [still in their crate] will be returned to Papa’s flight pen during the day.