Great Horned Owlet #18-0553

Admission Date: 
April 28, 2018
Release Date: 
October 8, 2018
Location of Rescue: 
Isle of Wight, Virginia
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Separated from parents
Patient Status: 
Patient Archive

On April 23, a young Great Horned Owl was found down on the ground in Isle of Wight County, Virginia. The bird was taken to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator, who transferred the young owl to the Wildlife Center of Virginia on April 28.

Dr. Ingrid, one of the Center’s veterinary interns, examined the bird and found that it had a broken blood feather on its left wing, as well as possible decreased range of motion in its right shoulder. There were no signs of fractures on radiographs; blood work was within normal limits. The owlet also had some retinal inflammation in its left eye; this can be a sign of prior trauma, but the injury appears to be stable at this point and shouldn’t cause additional problems. The eye will be re-evaluated in a month.

The owlet was placed in a crate in the Center’s holding room for the first two days for additional observation; the owlet appeared to be using its wings appropriately on Saturday. The owlet’s crate was placed in FP4 with Papa G’Ho and three other owlets on Sunday for a slow introduction; the owlet came out of the crate on Monday, April 30. 

Your donation will help provide care to this young owlet -- and the 2,500 other patients the Wildlife Center will treat this year. 




October 8, 2018

Great Horned Owlet #18-0553 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 October 7; results were within normal limits.

Wildlife rehabilitator Brie banded the owl on Monday, October 8. 


GHOW #18-0553 was picked up later that same afternoon by a volunteer transporter and was returned to its natal area in Isle of Wight County, where it was rescued in April.  The owl flew out of the crate quickly and flew silently, gaining height, then curved to the right and disappeared through the trees. Click here to see a video of the release.

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!