On April 15, a private citizen found a Great Horned Owl nestling on the ground in Orange, Virginia. The citizen found two nests in the surrounding area, but they were located very far from where the owlet was found and close monitoring did not reveal any nest activity or indication that adults were present. The owlet was brought to the Center for rehabilitative care.
On admission, the owlet was bright and alert. Center veterinary intern Dr. Emily examined the bird and did not find any injuries. Radiographs and bloodwork both came back within normal limits. After the exam, Dr. Emily administered fluids to ensure the owlet was well hydrated, then placed it inside the Center's ICU to rest. Though the owlet was uninjured, its young age put it at risk of imprinting on people. To prevent that from happening, the veterinary team wore specialized face coverings and limited their contact with the owlet. Once the owlet cleared a quarantine period to ensure it did not have Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, the rehabilitation team planned to start its acclimation process with Papa G'Ho, the Center's surrogate Great Horned Owl. Placing the owlet with Papa G'Ho will help it learn natural owl behaviors and retain its wariness toward humans.
On April 30, the rehabilitation team placed the owlet in a crate inside the Center's A2 enclosure to start its acclimation with Papa G'Ho and owlet #22-0294. After several days of becoming accustomed to each other's presence, the rehabilitation team opened the crate and let the owlet have access on May 5. So far, the owlet appears to be settling well and has been observed sitting close to Papa G'Ho and the other owlet.
The owlet will continue to stay with Papa G'Ho as it grows and develops, though its prognosis remains guarded due to the potential for it to imprint on humans. Watch the young owl and its new family on the Center's Critter Cam!