During the past month, Papa G'Ho has continued to rear Great Horned Owl fledglings #21-0308, #21-0292, and #21-0245 in outdoor flight pen A2. Critter Cam viewers have seen these young owls grow and develop while they practice flying, preening, perching, and socializing with one another. On September 1, the rehabilitation team began exercising the fledglings once per day. After several weeks of exercise and observation from the staff, wildlife rehabilitation intern Ben noted that all of the fledglings are progressing very well in building their physical stamina and flight techniques.
On September 13, though, the fledglings' exercise regimen was temporarily discontinued. Critter Cam viewers, veterinary, and rehabilitation staff became aware of a skunk accessing the owls' enclosure at night. Skunks are predators that possess considerable digging skills, and are a significant threat to both patients and resident education ambassadors at the Center, though in this case they could also be a prey item for hungry Great Horned Owls! For now, the three fledglings and Papa G'Ho have been transitioned into a smaller, secured outdoor area.
After identifying where the skunk had been entering the enclosure, rehabilitation staff left a humane trap inside the flight pen overnight. While efforts were unsuccessful in containing the skunk, a wild Virginia Opossum -- also a nocturnal predator -- was found in the trap the following morning.
The hole is currently being repaired by Lantz Construction Company -- conveniently, construction crew members were already on-site working to complete a number of projects related to The Great Rebuild! After repairs are completed, Papa G'Ho and the fledglings will be transitioned back into flight pen A2 and resume exercising.