05/11/2019 Great Horned Owl - 1
On Saturday evening, 5/11/2019, we took in a baby great horned owl from Granger, Indiana in St. Joe County. The homeowners had noticed the bird hopping around several nearby yards for a few days and thinking that this baby had fallen from its nest and was abandoned, they contacted Soarin' Hawk for help. The homeowners were pretty sure of where the nest was, but it was at least 40 feet up. There was no way they could put the baby back.
Typically we would advise the caller to allow the bird to stay put; this is the time when young birds fledge, leave the nest, and try out those new flight feathers. Mama is most often nearby and is feeding the young when no one else is around - and did you know those baby owls can climb trees?
However, since it had been a few days with no sign of a parent, we admitted the bird just long enough to make sure there were no injuries. What we found was a healthy ball of fluff, of good weight with huge eyes and an attitude that said back off.
Parents will feed several times a day and it had been several hours since this little had eaten, so it was clearly hungry and managed to eat several small mice. He developed quite a little pot belly and gained several grams over the next 24 hours. But still being a baby, he had an exciting adventure away from home, so when everything checked out during our exam, we placed him in a crate with a little company - a life size stuffed great horned owl. If you look closely at the picture, you can see him holding the toy owl's foot with his own; and he slept, well, like a baby.
Our goal is to leave the bird near their nest, but the next best thing is to return it to the area as quickly as possible. Fledged owls remain in close proximity with their parents throughout most of the summer and often will beg for food from their parents into the fall, even four to five months after leaving the nest.
On Monday, 5/13/2019 we transported this owl back to where he was found and one of our more limber volunteers managed to climb at least 20 feet up the tree and placed our little buddy on one of the branches - SUCCESS!!!
A week later, we contacted the homeowners inquiring if they had seen the owl and they did for a few days, but were then pretty sure they noticed him flying around, just being an owl.
Many thanks to Gary C. for rescuing this bird from Granger and transporting him back to Fort Wayne and thanks to the McFarland family for taking the time to care.