Owl Gets a Second Chance at Life
This rufous Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio) was found at the Subway/Dunkin' Donuts plaza next door to the Wildlife Clinic in Saunderstown, RI.
As you can see from his feathers, he has a reddish brown color pattern. Eastern Screech-Owls can be gray or rufous, like this one.
The injured owl appeared to have flown into a window and to have hit his head; he looked stunned. The term we use is "window strike," which is similar to a concussion in humans.
Since it was after hours, the owl was taken to the Emergency Service at Ocean State Veterinary Specialists in East Greenwich. The techs and doctors there stabilized him and transferred him to us the next day. (We are very fortunate to have their help, all of which is donated.)
Initially, the owl was very feisty, biting and trying to fly away when we restrained him for his treatments. We hoped he would eat on his own and offered him several mice. Unfortunately he refused to eat on that day, as well as the next.
So on the third day, we cut up a mouse into tiny pieces, restrained him in a towel, opened his beak and put the food right into his mouth. We often call this force-feeding, although it is more like assisted feeding. The owl hated the procedure and played dead, which is something owls do; so it took a lot of time to get the calories into him.
On the fourth day when he was being stubborn yet again, we contacted Vivian Maxson from Born to be Wild Raptor Center, another one of our wildlife rehab partners. Vivian and her husband John specialize in raptor rehabilitation and education programs.
Vivian's advice was that if the owl had just been stunned and was now recovered, we would probably not get him to eat in captivity in the short term because of the stress of confinement and a new environment. If he had no other injuries she felt it was worth giving him a second chance at life sooner rather than later.
We test flew him in the NEW Clinic where we now have plenty of space for this critical step. His flight was excellent so we decided to release him that afternoon. The rule is that we have to release raptors within a mile of where they were found, we were able to release him right out our back door. He flew perfectly and quickly away.
Here is a video of Deb Fahey, licensed WRARI rehabilitator, long time volunteer, and seasonal staff member, releasing the Eastern Screech-Owl.
As always, this was a team effort!
Special thanks to the staff at OSVS (http://www.osvs.net/) and to Vivian at Born to Be Wild Raptor Center (http://www.hawkri.org/)
Here is a link to more about this species on the Cornell Ornithology site.
Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator
Office Administrator, Wildlife Clinic of RI