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Posts Tagged ‘Barred Owl’

The little Barred Owl was only two weeks old. He was still covered in down and just beginning to get pin feathers. The owlet shared a nest with his siblings in a cavity about 30 feet high in a big old tree at Tanglewood County Park. The nest was very nice with a solid floor and lots of room. But there was a little low spot in the front wall which allowed the owlet to fall out of the nest.

The Barred Owlet was found on the ground.  Photo by Hop Hopkins.

The Barred Owlet was found on the ground. Photo by Hop Hopkins.

Fortunately, a birder spied the owl on the ground near the trail. Hop Hopkins and David and Susan Disher were walking along the trail and ran into the first birder who showed them the owl. Hop contacted Phil Dickinson who knew just what to do – call Jean Chamberlain. Jean is a licensed raptor rehabilitator who has performed many owl rescues. Hop scooped up the owl and put it into a REI shopping bag with a small blanket. He took it to Animal Ark Veterinary Hospital in Clemmons where Jean picked it up.

In the REI bag for transport to Animal Ark Veterinary Hospital.  Photo by Hop Hopkins.

In the REI bag for transport to Animal Ark Veterinary Hospital. Photo by Hop Hopkins.

Jean took the owlet home and carefully examined it. It weighed 325 grams (11.5 ounces) and was healthy and uninjured, so Jean began forming a plan to re-nest the owl the next day. She contacted Lorena Greene, whose husband, Aaron, works at Tanglewood. Aaron and his friend, John Ledbetter, also a Tanglewood employee, were happy to help. They agreed to meet Jean with a ladder and help put the owl back in the nest. Jean allowed Phil Dickinson and me to go along and observe. On Wednesday afternoon, April 23, Aaron and Lorena, John, Jean, Phil, and I met at Skilpot Lake. But our rescue party was not yet quite complete.

The young owl calmly waiting in the parking lot.  Photo by Phil Dickinson.

The young owl calmly waiting in the parking lot. Photo by Phil Dickinson.

Todd and Beth Cassidy had just rescued a Great Horned Owl and needed to deliver it to Jean, so they also met her at Skilpot Lake. It was their 26th anniversary and Beth said that they always like to have an adventure to celebrate. So, Todd and Beth joined our Barred Owl party and we all went back to the nest area. The men quickly set up the twenty-foot ladder and leaned it against the nest tree. As we’d suspected, it was not nearly long enough. Aaron called another friend for help and we soon had a 40-foot ladder. This one was just right.

Jean climbing up to the nest.  Photo by Shelley Rutkin.

Jean climbing up to the nest. Photo by Shelley Rutkin.

Jean quickly ascended the ladder and inspected the nest. She came down and reported that it was really nice and that it contained two owlets. Had the nest been in need of repair, she was prepared to reinforce the bottom.   She got her camera and the owl and went back up. Jean placed the little owl in the nest and came down the ladder again. Success! Jean had re-nested the owlet.

Jean placing the owlet back into the nest.  Photo by Phil Dickinson.

Jean placing the owlet back into the nest. Photo by Phil Dickinson.

One of the men joked that the owlet would tell his siblings all about his big adventure. He suggested that the owlet could say, “Don’t worry about falling out. Someone will put you back in the nest.”

Our little owl back in the nest with his siblings.  Photo by Jean Chamberlain.

Our little owl back in the nest with his siblings. Photo by Jean Chamberlain.

Jean is our local owl and hawk expert with Wildlife Rehab, Inc.  She and several other people in this story are Forsyth Audubon members. I have referred to the owlet as “he”, but there is no way to determine the gender of a young owl.

Please be especially careful to avoid disturbance of the owls during the next few months. The babies will soon be “branchers” out of the nest. They will be unable to fly and are safer from predators in the branches of the tree than on the ground. The parents will continue to feed the young owls for several months.

 

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Fall is a tough time of year for young owls.  Their parents have recently stopped feeding and caring for them, but they have not had sufficient time or experience to hone their survival skills.  So, mistakes happen – like crashing through windows.  Karen Keller, Town Clerk for the Town of Bethania, arrived at her office this morning and opened the door leading into the Alpha Chapel as usual.  Imagine Karen’s surprise when she saw shattered glass on the floor and a Barred Owl on the piano.

Barred Owl in the Alpha Chapel

Barred Owl in the Alpha Chapel

Karen called me and asked what to do.  I called Jean Chamberlain, our local owl and hawk rehabilitation expert with Wildlife Rehab, Inc.  Thirty minutes later, Jean, Karen, Mark Farnsworth (manager of the Bethania Visitor Center), and I walked into the chapel.  The owl was still on the piano, but it quickly flew around a little and then crashed into a corner and fell to the floor where Jean was able to pick it up.

Jean holds the Barred Owl

Jean holds the Barred Owl

Jean showed us the barring on the owl’s wing which indicated that it is a first year bird, probably about six months old.  Although there was no evidence of bleeding and we had just seen the owl fly, Jean carefully examined it for injuries.

Jean examines the Barred Owl for injuries

Jean examines the Barred Owl for injuries

Something in the tendon that runs along the top of the wing felt not quite right, so Jean decided to take the owl home with her for observation.  I was elated to receive a phone call a few hours later saying that the owl was flying just fine.  Jean also said that feeling its keel revealed a healthy amount of muscle, so the bird had been successfully feeding itself.  There was a little swelling in its wing, but she expected that it would heal naturally.  Jean planned to release the owl at 6:45 PM this evening.

We arrived in the Bethania Visitor Center parking lot at the agreed upon time and Jean took the owl out of its carrier.

Jean holds the Barred Owl before release

Jean holds the Barred Owl before release

We admired the owl again and then Jean swept her arm upwards and let go.  The owl quickly flew to the nearest tree, sat for a minute, and then flew out of our sight.  This beautiful young owl was now back home in the wonderful woods of Black Walnut Bottoms.

Female Barred Owls are larger than males.  This bird was intermediate in weight, so we do not know its gender.

The photo below shows the view from outside the chapel.  Note the lower right window pane where the owl crashed through.

The Barred Owl crashed through this window into the chapel

The Barred Owl crashed through this window into the chapel

In addition to facilitating owl rescues, Forsyth Audubon works with the Town of Bethania to replace non-native invasive plants with native species.  Our other activities include bird and butterfly walks in Walnut Bottoms.  See the Bethania page on our website for more information.

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