Barred Owl #19-0022

Admission Date: 
January 10, 2019
Location of Rescue: 
Tazewell County, Virginia
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Hit by vehicle
Patient Status: 
Current Patient

On January 4, an adult Barred Owl was hit by a truck in Tazewell County, Virginia. The bird was taken to the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center of Roanoke where it was stabilized before it was transferred to the Wildlife Center on January 10 and admitted as patient #19-0022.

The owl sustained injuries to both eyes, which is a common injury when owls are struck by vehicles. The owl’s left eye was badly damaged and painful; the right eye had some trauma including a retinal tear. The bird was thin and dehydrated. Radiographs revealed some muscle loss near the bird’s left shoulder, though no fractures or dislocations were seen.

The veterinary team started the bird on a course of medicated eye drops and scheduled the bird for surgery to remove the damaged left eye. On January 18, vet student Katie and Dr. Karra took the owl to surgery to perform an evisceration of the left eye. During this type of surgery, the contents of the eye were surgically removed. This is different from an “enucleation”, where the entire globe is removed. With evisceration, the basic shape of the screech-owl’s face will stay more symmetrical, and the missing eye will likely be less noticeable. The advantages of this surgery are that the bird’s face is better balanced to maintain shape, the surgery is shorter, and there is a decreased risk of affecting the sight in the remaining eye.

The owl recovered well and was moved to a small outdoor enclosure on January 29, then to a larger flight pen on February 18. The bird has not been eating well while at the Center; the rehabilitation team found that the owl prefers to eat live prey, rather than the dead mice and/or rats that are provided to recovering patients. The owl is currently being housed with another Barred Owl patient, #19-0076; they are hopeful that perhaps owl #19-0022 will want to eat dead prey after observing its new owl roommate.

Barred Owl #19-0022 will need to remain at the Center until mid-April, due to the healing injuries in its right eye. The staff will carefully observe how the bird flies and maneuvers during the next month until it’s time to start the bird on daily exercise and monitoring.

Your donation will help provide veterinary medical care to this injured owl -- and the 3,000 other patients that the Center will admit this year. Thank you! 


March 13, 2019

Barred Owls #19-0022 and #19-0076 have been doing well for the past two weeks; while the owls generally don’t appear to perch close to one another, they are tolerating sharing the same space, and both owls are eating well.

On Sunday, March 10, the owls were moved back to a C-pen enclosure due to the start of replacing the roof of Flight Pens 4-6.  The construction team hopes that they’ll complete that project by the end of this week or by early next week; the owls will then be moved back to a flight pen.