The Wildlife Center has shifted to its Spring/Summer operating hours and is now open Monday through Friday 9:00-6:00 and weekends 9:00-4:00pm. Sunday was the first full day of spring and it is quite appropriate that a baby Great Horned owl became the 1000th intake of the year. Raptor babies, especially Great Horned Owls are usually one of the first babies to make their appearance each year. This year we were several weeks into baby squirrels before the Great Horned owlets began showing up at intake. This month has kept the Center staff, veterinarians, and volunteers very busy treating and feeding hundreds of squirrels and opossums. The squirrels seemed to fall out of nests when strong winds blew through in March. The Center is also caring for over a hundred little baby opossums who were kept alive by the protection of a mother's pouch, when moms were run over by vehicles. While we are sad the moms did not make it, their heritage is carried on by these resilient little ones. Caring volunteers not only provide these orphans food and shelter, but do so in a manner that keeps them wild so they have the best chance at survival when they are returned to the wild. Baby doves are beginning to show up at the Wildlife Center. They will soon be followed by songbirds and Killdeer. Hopefully, the squirrel and opossum babies will have eased off before the birds hit their peak. A young female bobcat was brought to the Wildlife Center who was hit by a car. She has a severe head injury. Wildlife Center veterinarians checked the bobcat out and she was found to have an eye injury as well as several check bone fractures. She is on medications and is [...]
Earlier in the year we told you about a Great Horned Owlet that had been blown from a damaged nest and its sibling that was still in the precarious nest. In follow-up comments we let you know that the sibling was blown down in the next storm. Neither was injured in their fall. The siblings have grown strong and their downy white baby feathers have been replaced with lovely flight feathers. WR&E is proud to report that they are now in a pre-release 50 foot flight cage. They are exercising their flight muscles and are enjoying their new digs. This past week the WR&E Wildlife Center received three more Great Horned Owlets who will stay at the Center until they are ready for a pre-release cage. One owlet arrived early in the morning from a couple who were driving through the Houston area and had heard about the Wildlife Center. Another owlet was brought to the Wildlife Center by a Texas Parks & Wildlife game warden. The owlet had a leg and wing injury. Dr. Antinoff from Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists quickly came to the Wildlife Center to exam and x-ray the baby. We are waiting for the surgeon to determine what the course of treatment will be for this little one. The third owlet is a larger baby who will be joining the first two in the pre-release cage as soon as it gains weight.
The Wildlife Center has experienced a break from the overwhelming demands of caring for orphans, but winter brings its own challenges. With the exception of an out-of-season clutch of ducks, a couple of pinkie squirrels or opossums, the Great Horned Owl babies usually herald the return of spring. This year a Barn Owl fledgling was our first raptor orphan but it has now been joined by a Great Horned Owlet. As usual, “raptor row” in the baby bird section will be the first to fill. Great Horned Owls don’t build nests from scratch; instead they often improve upon abandoned crow or squirrel nests. Rescuers found one owlet on the ground. The other owlet was still in a partially destroyed nest. The parents of our newest patient either didn’t select a stable base or didn’t perform sufficient renovations. The remaining owlet is in danger of falling also. The owlet at the center has been checked out and there are no broken bones, he just needs a little weight on him. The damage to the nest means that the owlet at the Wildlife Center cannot be returned. It also means that the remaining owlet is in danger. Plans are currently being evaluated that would provide a new nesting platform in the same tree so that the parents can safely raise both of their babies. Last year, WR&E successfully renested a baby Great Horned Owl. The parents had made their nest in the pine needles that had collected in the valley of a steep roof. Thanks again to CenterPoint Energy for the lift! To read about it go to the “Topics of Interest” drop down list on the right side of any website page and click on “Great [...]
Three animals lay on cold Houston streets on a drizzly gray day in November. All three needed help as their injuries prevented them from moving. Luckily all three were found by caring individuals who brought them to an organization that was ready, willing and able to provide treatment. On November 21, 2009 the first call came in about a Great Horned Owl who had been found on the road. A man and his two children brought the badly hypothermic owl to the WR&E Wildlife Center for care. The magnificent Great Horned Owl was cold, wet and scared. WR&E staff gavage fed warm fluids and pain medication. Intubation continued on an hourly basis. The Great Horned Owl began to stabilize. Several hours later a call came from a gentleman who had found a hawk on the road. With guidance from the Wildlife Center he took a towel and scooped the hawk up and gently laid him in the back of his car and drove it to the Wildlife Center. The hawk turned out to be a gorgeous adult Red Tailed Hawk. It was also badly hypothermic, so WR&E staff administered warm fluids and pain medication. A heat lamp was placed over the bird to speed the warming process. Intubation continued on an hourly basis. Not more than thirty minutes later the third cold wet patient was driven to the Wildlife Center. An adult female Virginia opossum was found injured. An exam revealed deep gashes in her neck. She was also hypothermic and in shock. This animal was warmed and stabilized. Then her wounds were treated. By the end of the day all three animals were dry, warm and taking food. Should they survive, they will still have several weeks of [...]
The Great Horned Owl Cyndi Bohannon The Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) is arguably one of the most majestic of all raptors. Solitary in nature, a group would be called a Parliament. Of the order Strigifermes and family Strigidae, the Great Horned owl is considered a “true owl”. The other owl family, Tytonidae include barn owls. Eight sub-species have been recognized. The territories of sub-species rarely overlap. The largest owl in the United States, it can stand 18 to 27 inches and have a wingspan of 48 to 60 inches! The Great Horned owl is the most widely distributed true owl in the Americas, inhabiting all ecosystems except deep desert and Arctic tundra. The overall coloration ranges from near white in the far northern portion of their range to dark chocolate brown in the southern regions. Size and weight varies geographically with the larger, heavier individuals living in colder climates. The females are larger than the males and weight ranges between two and a half and four pounds. All sub-species share the overall markings: prominent ear-tufts or “horns”, white patch at the throat, narrow bars on the front and a random mottled back. The Great Horned Owl primarily hunts at night, but sightings at dawn and dusk are not unusual. Perched high above an open area, it silently swoops down upon almost anything that moves. Its diet is extremely diverse, but small to medium mammals, birds and waterfowl are favorites. It is the only known predator of the skunk. Unlike many raptors, the Great Horned Owl will walk on the ground to gather crawfish, amphibians, reptiles or large insects. It have been known to walk into henhouses and wade into shallow water for a meal. [...]
When in need IMPROVISE! By Margaret Pickell One cool night in late January a resident pair of Great Horned Owls circled the Cole Creek development searching for the ideal place to raise their future babies. They were having a tough time because so many trees had been cleared to build human homes. This left the birds looking in a neighborhood. The pair settled on a huge pile of pine needles on the roof of a welcoming homeowner. Mother owl sat on the eggs waiting for them to hatch. Two big fuzzy babies hatched from their eggs and so the arduous task of finding food began for the parents. When the babies were about 4 weeks old a heavy rain storm pelted the roof as strong winds began to blow. One baby was blown from the high roof, the other baby stoically made its way up to the peak of the roof and over the top where it was protected by an air vent. Mother owl tried to feed both babies but several days later the one on the ground began to get weaker. A neighbor called the WR&E Wildlife Center and after many questions it was determined it would be best to bring the little fellow in for an exam and possible return to the nest. The young owlet was brought in on March 22. It was checked over by our volunteer Veterinarian, Dr. Brenda Flores. No broken wings or bones were found. The owlet was very thin and dehydrated. The Wildlife Center staff and volunteers nursed the little guy back to health and after a week he was checked again and it was determined he would be able to be re-nested. During [...]