Great Horned Owlet #22-0508

Admission Date: 
April 15, 2022
Location of Rescue: 
Orange County
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Suspected Orphan
Patient Status: 
Current Patient

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

Your support will help provide long-term care to this young owlet -- and more than 3,700 patients that the Center will admit in 2022!


June 17, 2022

During the past month, all four of the owlets currently housed in the A2 enclosure have been doing well under Papa G'Ho's parental care. The rehabilitation team has carefully monitored the owlets over Critter Cam #1 and noted that each bird has been active, eating well, and displaying species appropriate behavior. Each owlet is currently being fed 120g of rat and has gained weight since being admitted.

As of June 13, each owlet's weight was:

Great Horned Owlet #22-0294 -- 1.43 kg  (about 3.15 pounds)                                                                      Great Horned Owlet #22-0490 -- 1.34 kg (about 2.95 pounds)                                                                        Great Horned Owlet #22-0508 -- 1.08 kg (about 2.4 pounds)                                                                            Great Horned Owlet #22-0581 -- 1.31 kg (about 2.9 pounds)                 


The rehabilitation team has kept a watchful eye on owlet #22-0490 and owlet #22-0581, the two owlets that previously had surgery to repair a radius/ulna fracture and a femur fracture, respectively. Neither owlet has shown any issues, though rehabilitation staff are still administering joint supplements to make sure there is no lasting discomfort from their fracture repairs. 

Recently, the rehabilitation team discovered that all of the owlets have grown an increased number of sturdy, adult feathers. As more adult feathers grow in, the owlets will have more mobility and will likely begin to test their wings. 

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