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 Horned Owl”.
Birds in general and raptors in particular show a preference for their home territory and often will return to the same tree or nesting box. The homeowner has called to say that the Great Horned Owls are nesting on her roof again this year. We are keeping our fingers crossed that heavy rain doesn’t sweep another owlet from the roof.