Great Horned Owlet #18-0408

Admission Date: 
April 19, 2018
Release Date: 
October 8, 2018
Location of Rescue: 
Chesterfield County, VA
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Fell from tree; unable to be re-nested
Patient Status: 
Patient Archive

On April 19, Great Horned Owlet #18-0408 was admitted to the Wildlife Center from a group of permitted wildlife rehabilitators in the Richmond area. The young bird had been found on the ground in Chesterfield County on April 14; the owlet’s nest could not be found and it was not possible to reunite the young owlet was its parents.

The veterinary team at the Wildlife Center examined the young owl when it arrived; the bird had a small retinal tear in its right eye, but otherwise was clinically healthy. The rehabilitation staff set the young owlet up in a crate for the initial introductions to its new siblings – owlets #18-0210 and #18-0299 – as well as Papa G’Ho, the Center’s non-releasable surrogate Great Horned Owl. Introductions went well, and the young owlet was let out of its crate into FP4 on April 23.

The owl will be a part of the 2018 Great Horned Owl family throughout the spring and summer; young Great Horned Owls are typically released in the fall.

Your donation will provide long-term care to this young owl -- and the entire 2018 Great Horned Owl family! Thanks for your support. 


October 8, 2018

Great Horned Owlet #18-0408 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 8; results were within normal limits. Wildlife rehabilitator Brie banded the owl that same afternoon, and the owlet was picked up by a volunteer transporter to take it back to Chesterfield County, where it was initially rescued in April. 

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!