04212017 Barred Owl baby

Location of Rescue: 
Fox Island Park
Admission Date: 
Cause of Admission: 
fell out of the nest

This is a wonderful story of a rescue and release all within 24 hours.....

On Friday, April 21st as Karen Buuck was walking the trails at Fox Island Nature Preserve, she came upon a gentleman walking his dog.  He excitedly pointed out a small bird that was sitting right on the walking path but didn't know how long it had been there.  He stuck a stick in the ground near the bird and continued on his walk as did Karen.  Karen ended up circling around to the same area to check on the bird and noticing he hadn't moved, realized she needed to get help. Fortunately, Natalie Haley, Environmental Educator at Allen County Park and Recreation and a volunteer at Soarin' Hawk, was working that day in the Nature Center and followed Karen to the spot where the bird was sitting and scooped him up. 

Natalie did what every good SHRR volunteer and environmental educator would do; she looked for poop and pellets.  Finding poop and pellets around a tree base is a clear sign there is a nest in that tree. With no immediate luck of finding the nest or seeing mama flying overhead, she contacted SHRR and advised Karen was transferring the baby to a rehab volunteer who would make sure it was fed and kept warm. 

But what kind of baby owl was this? They're all adorable, but the color of his eyes and his yellow beak and a slight darkening of his face feathers in the shape of a circle showed we had a baby Barred Owl. When we saw this baby, it was smaller and younger than most and clearly needed to be returned to its mama and we knew the next morning we would do everything in our power to reunite him with mama and maybe a sibling or two.  But in the meantime, dinner needed to be served.  A bird that young cannot have what an adult raptor would eat, no skin, no bones (called casting material)  Owls cannot digest the skin and bones so they "cast" up a pellet which is composed of the skin, fur and bones...  We had to feed this little guy pinkies which have none of those components.

And what a voracious appetite!  Once we got home, he had his first feeding and boy was he hungry, there is no telling how long he was on the ground.  We are assuming he somehow got blown out of his nest because of the wind and storms from Thursday night.  Baby birds eat several times a day, so he had definitely missed a few meals.  After filling his belly with several pinkies, he settled down into his temporary nest complete with a beanie baby to cuddle up with as he would his sibling.  He was kept warm with the help of a heating pad under his bedding....and he slept, well, like a baby!

The next morning we managed to get in 2 additional feedings before we set about finding the tree. Once again, Natalie made the trek to locate the tree near where he was found.  This time it was much easier as an adult Barred owl was flying overhead.  With the help of her binoculars, she finally located the nest just about 30 feet away from where the baby was found.  Now that we had pinpointed the nest, .how were we going to get this baby back up there as it was about 40 feet up!!!! 

Natalie, along with 3 other SHRR volunteers who arrived on scene, went to the “found” nest site to assess the situation.  Before heading out, though, one of the volunteers suggested that she would like to contact a tree climber that she had recently used to trim a tree on her property, to see if he would be willing to help out.  All agreed and a call was placed to Matt West, of Matt West Tree Care (260) 387-3555

Matt called back right away and he agreed to assist us and plans were made to meet him at the Nature Center at Fox Island.  Matt arrived with his family and gear in tow and quickly “suited up” for his mission.  We placed the baby in a cloth knapsack, lined with comfy towels, for his journey up the rope into the tree.  At this point we headed out for our short hike to the nest site.

Upon arrival Mama was in the tree cavity with her tail feathers sticking out.  Once she heard the commotion, she quickly exited and headed to a nearby tree to view the proceedings.

Matt quickly assessed the tree and within a few minutes was scaling his way up to the cavity.  He carefully looked in and found that the baby had a sibling in the cavity!   He then pulled the knapsack up the rope and carefully reached in and retrieved the baby and placed it into the nest.  He then took a video of the two with his cell phone before heading back down the tree.  We all headed back to the nature center but paused for a bit only to find that Mama flew back to the nest to greet her missing baby!

As they say, “It takes a Village” and we couldn’t do all that we do without the amazing folks in the community that we partner with.  And this new partnership with Matt West of Matt West Tree Care is one that we are very grateful for.  This will now give us the ability to place these babies back where they belong, with Mama!


Posted on  May 10, 2017

Approaching the nesting sight the small group hoped to find the re nested baby still in the cavity with its sibling. Not disappointed, there they were huddled together and in a quiet slumber. Not for long however, an adult had arrived with a meal, a small rodent (mouse or shrew). She stopped short of the nest and landed in a nearby tree. Carefully observing the area and assessing if we were a threat no doubt. When confident we came in peace and obviously knowing we played a part in getting to feed two, not just one, the adult flew to the youngsters. Over the course of short periods of observation and retreats (to give them some space) the group witnessed at least 4 or 5 of these feedings. During one of these we also observed what we wondered was a right of passage or introduction to the real world. What appeared to be the dominate youngster of the pair, strongest and most vocal, was lifted from the cavity by the adult. This was done as gracefully as two birds flapping wings can be as the youngster was placed on the upper rim of the cavity. The action was achieved by locking of beaks or a rodent for connection. This is where the owlet remained during the duration of our observation on this day. It seemed apprehensive at first but became more sure footed, confident and even appeared to be taunting the other owlet. Without a doubt now there was room for each to stretch and practice flight maneuvers. Good Luck Baby Barreds! 



Posted May 21, 2017 from Fox Island

A few days ago this tree was a safe haven to a female barred owl and her chicks. The chicks had thankfully already fledged but 3 days ago, approximately May 18th; a combination of wind and rain snapped the tree off at the nesting cavity. Hopefully the owlets will mature and produce future generations and the tree is now resting on the forest floor releasing its energy into the soil which will produce new tree growth. And the beat goes on!


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