On April 18, a private citizen found a Great Horned Owl hatchling on the ground in Lancaster, Virginia. The owlet was too young to be out of its nest and was taken to permitted wildlife rehabilitator Dana Lusher for an exam. Dana found what she suspected was a fracture in the bird's right leg, likely from falling out of its nest. After several days of rehabilitative care, Dana transferred the owlet to the Wildlife Center.
On admission, the owlet was quiet and appeared weak. Dr. Emily, one of the Center's veterinary interns, examined the owlet and felt a possible fracture in the bird's right femur. Radiographs confirmed that the owlet's femur was fractured. No other injuries were found during the exam. Dr. Emily started the owlet on a course of anti-inflammatories and pain medication, then placed the owlet in the Center's ICU to rest, with the plan to perform surgery on its injured leg in the following days.
On April 25, the veterinary team anesthetized the owlet and surgically placed a pin in its right leg to help stabilize its fracture so it could heal properly. The incision site appeared red and very swollen the next morning. In addition to the owlet's other medication, the veterinary team started the bird on a course of antibiotics and ice pack therapy daily.
After several weeks of treatment, the owlet's leg appeared much improved. On May 10, the veterinary team anesthetized the owlet to take repeat radiographs of its right leg and found a moderate callus formation around its fracture. This indicated that the fracture was healing well and the veterinary team decided to remove the pin from the owlet's leg. They closely monitored the incision site where the pin was removed for any signs of infection, but it soon healed well and the owlet was able to perch and use its leg normally.
On May 24, the rehabilitation team placed the owlet in a crate inside the Center's A2 enclosure to start its acclimation with Papa G'Ho, the Centers' ambassador Great Horned Owl. Placing the owlet with Papa G'Ho will help it learn the natural behaviors it needs to survive in the wild and maintain its wariness of people. On May 26, staff opened up the crate and let the owlet into the enclosure
So far, the owlet has been observed getting along well with Papa G'Ho and the other owlets and staff have not seen any issues with its right leg. The owlet's prognosis remains guarded.