Great Horned Owlet #22-0581

Admission Date: 
May 22, 2022
Location of Rescue: 
Lancaster County
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Fell from Nest
Patient Status: 
Current Patient

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. 

You can watch this Great Horned Owlet on Critter Cam 1!

Your donation will help provide veterinary care and rehabilitation to this young Great Horned Owlet ... and more than 3,800 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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