The veterinary and rehabilitation staff have kept a close eye on Eastern Screech-Owl #21-1102 during the past week and a half, completing daily exercise routines with a goal of the bird completing 15 or more passes of the outdoor flight pen during each session. On September 30, it was determined that the owl's flight had adequately improved to a point where live-prey testing was suitable. The Screech-Owl displayed its ability to successfully capture live prey within the flight pen for three consecutive days, confirmed by wildlife rehabilitator Kelsey who saw the owl capture a mouse on camera, prompting the veterinary staff to begin pre-release blood work on October 2.
The results of the owl's blood work, including an in-house test for lead, all returned within normal limits and the bird was officially deemed ready to return to the wild on October 4. In an effort to release this patient as soon as possible, veterinary intern Dr. Jennifer transported the bird to the release location in Augusta County rather than contacting a volunteer transporter. Dr. Jennifer reported that during the release, the owl immediately flew away from her "as fast as he could" -- following five months of care at the Center, this Eastern Screech-Owl has been successfully rehabilitated and returned to the wild!