Great Horned Owlet #19-0341

Admission Date: 
April 10, 2019
Release Date: 
October 5, 2019
Location of Rescue: 
Henrico County
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Fell from nest
Patient Status: 
Patient Archive

On April 10, a Great Horned Owlet #19-0341 and its nest mate, owlet #19-0340, were transferred from a permitted wildlife rehabilitator to the Wildlife Center. Private citizens found the owlets after they fell from their nest.

Upon admission, the veterinary staff auscultated [listened to] the owlet’s heart and lungs and heard a heart murmur and crackles in the lungs.  Heart murmurs are not unremarkable in young birds, but it will need to be monitored. Crackles in the lungs indicate possible trauma or fluid in the lungs, though nothing unusual was identified on radiographs.

The rehabilitation team monitors the young owlets daily. By April 17, the rehabilitation no longer heard crackle sounds in the owlet’s lungs and the bird is successfully eating well on its own; it’s gained 290 grams since admission and weighs 1.0 kg as of April 23.

Owlets #19-0340 and #19-0341 are currently housed together in a crate in one of the Center’s holding areas. If owlet #19-0340’s begins to heal appropriately, the rehabilitation team will move both owlets in a crate to surrogate Great Horned Owl Papa G’Ho’s enclosure during the day and back inside at night. This will allow the young owls to see Papa and the other owlets he is currently fostering [#19-0148 and #19-0223]; this helps the owls to properly imprint on an adult of the same species.

Your donation will help provide supportive care to this owlet -- and our entire owl family! -- for the next six months! Thanks for your help. 


October 4, 2019

Great Horned Owlets #19-0341 and #19-0223 both successfully passed five nights of live prey testing – indicating that they are ready to hunt for themselves in the wild! The veterinary staff drew blood for a pre-release analysis; results were within normal limits.

Great Horned Owl #19-0223 will be picked up within the next few days and will be returned to  Nature's Nanny Wildlife Rehabilitation for release in the Virginia Beach area.

The staff are still coordinating the release of owl #19-0341.

September 24, 2019

Great Horned Owlets #19-0341 and #19-0223 have both been flying well during their daily exercise sessions during the past few weeks. The young owls are flying silently, with good stamina, and are nearing the final stage of their rehabilitation process – live prey testing. The birds have been intermittently receiving live mice during the past couple of months, so they are used to the idea and phenomenon of having to hunt for themselves; they just need to spend several days in a row only receiving live prey, so that the rehabilitation staff ensure that the owls can care for themselves in the wild.

On September 24, the owlets will be split up into their own flight pens; Papa G’Ho will be moved back to a C-pen since his official fatherly duties are done for the year. Live prey testing – “mouse school” – will start later this week.

If the owlets can each hunt for themselves for multiple days in a row, they will be able to be released in October.

September 10, 2019

The two Great Horned Owlets in A2 are growing up – at a quick glance, it can be hard to tell the difference between the two owlets and their surrogate dad, Papa G’Ho! Last week, the rehabilitation staff started the young owls on daily exercise; at this point, both birds are flying somewhere between six to nine lengths of the flight pen during each session. The rehab staff are increasing the owlets' daily goal to 10 passes this week.

Once the owlets are flying an average of 15 passes during each session, and they are flying silently with good stamina, the owlets will be split up and individually put through live prey testing, or “mouse school”. For several days, the owlets will have to catch and kill their own food, to ensure they have enough experience hunting before they return to the wild this fall.

July 8, 2019

Great Horned Owlets #19-0223 and #19-0341, along with surrogate owl Papa G’Ho, were returned to their A2 flight enclosure on the morning of July 8. Last week, the staff were able to determine exactly where a raccoon was entering and exiting the flight enclosure, and several repairs and reinforcements were made. After the repairs were finished, the rehab staff set live traps in the A1 and A2 flight enclosure again to ensure that the raccoon was no longer able to get in. After multiple nights of not trapping anything, they determined it was safe to use the flight enclosures again. The staff will continue to carefully observe the area for any raccoon activity.

The rehabilitation staff has started intermittently offering live prey once a week to allow the owlets to observe Papa hunting and to allow them to have their own chance at practicing hunting for the first time.

June 6, 2019

The three Great Horned Owlets have been doing very well in the outdoor flight pen with Papa G’Ho.

Following a foot and feather check on June 3, wildlife rehabilitator Kelsey determined that the owl family could move to a larger space – one of the Center’s longest and tallest flight pens. In this space, the owlets will be able to practice flying as they get older, and the large birds will have more space to spread out and explore.

The family is now featured on Critter Cam; viewers are able to observe the young birds as they grow and interact with their siblings and surrogate parent.

May 29, 2019

The owl family has been doing well during the past few weeks; the young owlets are increasingly active and have been exploring their flight pen.

Great Horned Owl #19-0341 is the youngest owlet of the three and has been growing in blood feathers (his adult flight feathers) during the past couple of weeks; at the most recent feather check on Monday, May 27, the feathers were nearly fully grown in. The rehab team will re-check the feathers on Thursday, May 30 and as long as everything looks good, the entire owl family will be moved to flight pen A2 so they have more space. There is a Critter Cam up and ready in this enclosure, so keep an eye out for them on Cam 3!

May 2, 2019

Great Horned Owlet #19-0341 is doing well and gaining weight -- the owl weighed 1.1 kilograms as of April 29.  On April 26, the rehabilitation began acclimating the owlet outside; each morning, the bird’s crate was moved into a flight pen with the Center’s surrogate Great Horned Owl Papa G’Ho and the two other owlets currently in his care [owlets #19-0148 and #19-0223].

After several days of acclimation and introduction to the others birds, owlet #19-0341 was allowed out of its crate into the flight pen with the other owls on April 30. The owlet will remain with the other owls for several months; in the early fall, all of the owlets will be separated to be individually prepared for release with flight conditioning and live prey testing.  

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