In early April, a young Great Horned Owl chick was found down on the ground at the Shenandoah Valley Campground. The approximately month-old owl was brought to the Wildlife Center. After a quick physical exam, the veterinary team decided that the healthy chick would be a good candidate for re-nesting.
The owl was returned to the area and placed in a laundry basket high up in a tree. After observation by campground personnel, however, it was determined that the parents were not returning to the young owl. The Great Horned Owl was re-admitted to the Wildlife Center on April 10 as patient #12-0317. After an additional physical examination and blood work, the veterinary staff decided to house the owl in the Center’s holding room for a day before moving the bird outdoors into a crate with Papa G’Ho.
Papa G’Ho is the Wildlife Center’s surrogate Great Horned Owl – he was admitted with a wing and leg injury in December 2001, and later was determined to be non-releasable. Because of his feisty nature, the Wildlife Center staff decided that Papa would be an excellent candidate for a surrogate bird – serving as a “role model” to young Great Horned Owl chicks. For years, the staff believed that Papa was a “she” due to the owl’s large size – and referred to him as “Mama G’Ho”. In 2011, a volunteer for the Wildlife Center did some DNA testing to determine the genders of some of the Center’s non-releasable animals – and discovered that “she” is actually a “he”!
Great Horned Owl chick #12-0317 will live in an enclosed crate placed in an outdoor enclosure with Papa G’Ho for the next week – this will be the “introduction” period. After both Papa and the Great Horned Owl chick have settled in, the rehab staff will open the door of the crate so that the young owl may begin to explore the enclosure. The veterinary team will continue to check the bird daily over the next few days; the veterinarians did find a small amount of bruising over the owl’s eyes and in its mouth upon admission. Great Horned Owl #12-0317 is eating well on its own – a diet of chopped rats, provided several times a day.