Taco and Peanut Butter

When winter storm “Riley” brought record breaking winds through our area last Friday, we crossed our fingers. Raptor nesting season is underway here in Maryland, and we hoped that the nests and babies would stay in place.

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Photo by Andi Chesser

On Monday, March 5th, we received our first baby raptor call of the season. Steve McCormick, Golf Course superintendant at Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, had found two Great Horned Owl nestlings at the foot of a damaged white pine tree on the course.

Steve told his children about the owlets and his five-year-old son promptly named them “Taco” and “Peanut Butter” (Taco being the larger of the two). We made arrangements to meet with Steve and transfer the owlets to Owl Moon Raptor Center, where we could examine them carefully for injuries.

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Photo by Andi Chesser

Taco and Peanut Butter were fine, fat, and healthy. It was clear they had received parental care despite the mishap.

We called Comprehensive Tree Care, our caring and dependable “tree guys,” to help us return the owlets to their parents. Then, we constructed a new nest for them using a laundry basket. The young owlets received several meals over the next 24 hours, and spent the night at Owl Moon.

On Tuesday, arborist Jason Beach climbed 35 feet up and secured the the nest basket in the nest tree. Then Taco and Peanut Butter were elevated up the tree in a protective bag, and placed in the nest with some dinner. Though not seen, we believe mom and dad were watching from a safe distance. Steve, along with several other enthusiastic golf course staff were also watching, and agreed to monitor the nest. Today, they observed the parents watching the nest, and confirmed that Taco and Peanut Butter are safe and active, popping their heads up to where they could be viewed.

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Taco and Peanut Butter in the nest basket. Photo by Jason Beach.

 

 

Trust

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Wow, folks! Where do I begin? The past two days have been a whirlwind! Your show of support has been incredible. I am grateful to all of you for your caring concern about this beautiful creature, “Trust,” an American Bald Eagle, that has been placed in Owl Moon’s care.

To update you, we brought Trust to Bennett Creek Animal Hospital this morning, where we took radiographs, and Dr. Debbie Deans examined her to get a clearer picture of her injuries. We learned that she has a fracture in her left shoulder. The coracoid bone, which runs from her shoulder to the breastplate was fractured mid-shaft from an impact, presumably caused by a motor vehicle. The coracoid is an important bone for flight because it supports the shoulder during the pull of the downstroke. Therefore, the prognosis for her returning to full flight is guarded. We have wrapped that wing to her body to immobilize it for at least 3 weeks, so the fracture can heal. We will remove the wrap periodically to do physical therapy and keep the joints mobile. We are not certain that our efforts will be successful, but we will give her the best possible chance of recovery of flight.

Another thing we learned from the radiographs is that there was some trauma to Trust’s cranial air sacs from the impact. Air sacs are part of a bird’s respiratory system. We think she can recover from this, but it is affecting her breathing, and there is still a small amount of internal bleeding evident in her mouth, so she is not completely “out of the woods” yet. She is, however, alert and on her feet. She went off her food for much of today, but tonight she regained some appetite when we put a quail at her feet.

I am posting a few pictures here, and a video of Trust eating fish, on our website. I will write more tomorrow. Thank you again for your support, and for your financial contributions to our efforts. Donations will be used to purchase fish and fowl, to feed Trust, and to care for the many hawks and owls under our care. We appreciate it!!! Please keep Trust in your thoughts and prayers.

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Spring is Springing Birds Free!

We released four birds over the course of a week! This video shows two of them, released on April 10th. The first, an immature Red-shouldered Hawk we call Tyson (because he is a spirited fighter) was released by Owl Moon volunteer Jaci Rutiser at Little Bennett Regional Park, in Clarkesburg, MD. Back on January 26th, Tyson was lying in the road at a major intersection not far from Little Bennett Park, and was lucky to be spotted by Jim, who rescued him and brought him home. Jim kept him overnight and in the morning the hawk seemed somewhat recovered. Jim and his wife debated what to do: release him? Fortunately, they chose to play it safe, and brought him to Owl Moon Raptor Center. We took Tyson to Second Chance Wildlife Center, where x-rays revealed he had a fractured coracoid, a strong bone, important for flight, that connects the shoulder to the breast plate. Tyson’s recovery required 3 weeks with the wing in a body wrap, removed periodically for physical therapy (during this period he was given medications for pain and inflammation), followed by 3 weeks of flight reconditioning.

The other bird featured in the video is an immature female Sharp-shinned Hawk, released at Meadowside Nature Center in Rockville, MD. “Peep” (because she often “greeted” us with a peep when we entered her chamber), was picked up by Washington DC Animal Control in Southeast DC on March 3th, and taken to City Wildlife on March 4th, where she received a thorough examination and initial care for a fractured radius, the smaller of two bones in the “forewing”, and a wound at the fracture site. Peep was transferred to Owl Moon for continued care and reconditioning on March 7th. Peeps recovery required two plus weeks in a wing wrap with periodic physical therapy, antibiotics and pain medication, and finally flight reconditioning. Both hawks were ready for release on a perfect weather day, April 10th. Thank you to Anisa Peters for taking and editing this video!

A Barred Owl we call Bode was released on April 4th at Greenwood Park, near where he was found just 10 days earlier (March 25th), in the middle of traffic on Route 108 in downtown Olney, MD. The owl had been hit by a car and would most certainly have been hit by another car, if Jim had not come to his aid. Jim picked him up and called Montgomery County Animal Control, who broughy him to Second Chance wildlife Center. There he received a thorough examination and x-rays, and initial care for a concussion. He was transferred to Owl Moon on March 30th, for continued care and flight testing. Fortunately for Bode, the blow to his head was relatively minor and did not involve his eyes (as it often does in owls), and he recovered quickly.

Another immature Red-shouldered hawk, “Elsa”, named by Daisy Brownie Troop 1876, was released on April 7th at Caitlin Dunbar Nature Center in Ellicott City, MD. These young Girl Scouts happened to have a nature program scheduled, and got a special treat to watch the hawk fly free! Elsa had been found a few miles from there, in Timmy’s back yard in Lichester, MD on November 9th. Timmy rescued her, and his dad, naturalist Billy “Box Turtle”, transported her to Owl Moon. Elsa had a hematoma and severe bruising on her right shoulder and wing. Her recovery required a week plus in a wing wrap, and several more weeks of physical therapy and exercise alternating with rest. But the most amazing thing about Elsa is that she had already survived an earlier accident, which had fractured her left leg in two places. We think her first accident must have happened in the nest, and that she survived through the healing process only because her parents took good care of her. Miraculously, she retained good function and mobility in the fractured leg and foot. But her left leg will always be somewhat weaker than her right. So, though fully recovered from her injuries by early January, we decided to hold Elsa until spring, so we could release her in warm weather, and with an abundant food supply, to improve her chances of survival given her handicap.

In March, we needed to prepare her for release. Because of the old leg fracture, we could not put jesses on her and use our usual method of reconditioning raptors, creance flying. Instead, we sent her to Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research Center in Newark, DE, where they kindly offered to place her in a large flight cage with other Red-shoulder and Red-tailed Hawks, and she could get flight exercise interacting with them. She was there for three weeks, and when she was ready, we retrieved her and transported her back to her home turf, where she was returned to the wild.

 

Great Horned Owl Rescue

"Mama Bird." Photograph by Dudley Warner.

“Mama Bird.” Photograph by Dudley Warner.

Owl Moon is in the news again!

On Monday, we rescued this gorgeous, massive female Great Horned Owl from entanglement in poultry netting at a small farm in Potomac. She was exhausted and dehydrated, but fortunately, her injuries: abrasions on her left foot and muscle strain from struggling to free herself, were relatively minor, and she only required 5 days to recover. She was released back in the neighborhood last night (after the farm owners modified the netting to make it taut and secure, safe for tempted raptors).

Netting of all kinds (poultry, deer, landscape, soccer, etc.) are a hazard to birds. Raptors, who cannot see it, will fly into it chasing prey, which may be songbirds trapped under it!

Here is a link to the rescue story, recently published in the Potomac Almanac. There will be a follow-up story of the release coming out soon!

http://connection.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/news/documents/2014/01/14/Potomac.pdf

Happy Owlidays from Owl Moon!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Owl Moon! It was a quiet and peaceful holiday for us, filled with family, food, and five new Eastern Screech Owl patients. More about them shortly, but first I want to thank everyone who donated during our winter fundraiser. We have raised over $2500 to support the care of local birds of prey. I am so grateful to all of you, and I am sure the birds would be too if they understood how important it is for them. If you have not yet contributed but would like to, there are still a few calendars left. Please take the time to donate $25 now, and we will gladly send you a calendar (5 calendars for donations of $100!). The birds and I thank you.

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Eggnog Peers out from under a towel.

This holiday we were able to give two birds the gift of a new start. I released “Egg Nog” the Barred Owl at dusk on Christmas Eve back in her home town of Potomac, MD. She and I were returning from Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research, where I had transferred her a week earlier for live prey testing. Egg Nog had recovered from head and eye trauma. Arturo had found her on November 21st along Falls Road in Potomac, MD, where she probably had an accident with a car. Fortunately, she regained vision in both eyes. Though her vision will never be quite as good as it was, she proved that she was capable of catching live prey. I was alone as I watched her fly off into winter woods.

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Suzanne holds Nutmeg just prior to her release.

We released “Nutmeg” (pictured above) here at Owl Moon on Christmas morning. Ray found Nutmeg on November 8th in Thurmont, MD. Frederick County Animal Control transferred her to Owl Moon on November 10th. We treated her for a long laceration along her back left shoulder. Like Egg Nog, she had probably been hit by a car. On the day of her release she was feisty and ready to go. The family and I took a break from the holiday festivities to bid her farewell.  Nutmeg took off toward the forest and did not look back. 

December has been the month of the Screech Owls. We currently have five red-phase Eastern Screech Owls: “Dora,” “Nora,” “Angora”, “Diego,” and “Pepe le Pew” (he has the perfume of a skunk!) All are victims of car accidents. Diego and Pepe have head and eye trauma. Both will probably will lose sight in one eye. However, they may still be released if they, like Egg Nog, can show they are capable of catching live prey. Dora and Nora have wing injuries. Dora’s is a fractured right humerus. The bone was surgically repaired by Dr. Erica Miller at TriState Bird Rescue and Research Center on Christmas Eve. We are grateful to Dr. Miller for taking holiday time to help this bird. We are optimistic for a full recovery. Nora has a soft tissue injury in her left shoulder. If the injury does not involve nerve damage, we can hope for her full recovery, as well. We’ll know better in the next couple of weeks. Angora is the latest arriving on December 29th with head trauma. She is lucky that her eyes were spared serious damage, but too look at her you know she has a whopping headache. Her prognosis is good and we hope our medicine will make her feel better soon!

Thank you to everyone who has helped Owl Moon this year. We wish everyone a peaceful, healthy, and happy 2014!

-Suzanne Shoemaker

The Definition of Cute!

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Northern Saw-whet Owl. Photograph by Suzanne Shoemaker.

This Northern Saw-whet Owl was admitted briefly yesterday to Owl Moon Raptor Center for flight testing and release. It came from my friend Judy Holzman at All Creatures Great and Small, a wildlife rehab center in Columbia, MD, where it recovered from a soft tissue injury to its left wing. It flew well, and was released at Lamb’s Knoll on South Mountain in Middletown, MD. Lamb’s Knoll is prime Saw-whet Owl habitat and the location of a banding station where a long term study of Saw-whet Owls is underway. The study is called Project OwlNet.

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Northern Saw-whet Owl. Photograph by Suzanne Shoemaker.

Patient Updates: October 29, 2012

Goalie
Red-shouldered Hawk
Male

Cinnamon
Red-shouldered Hawk
Male, Juvenile

Friday was a busy day! In the morning Lee and I, together with our guests Cynthia and her daughter Orli, released the two Red-shouldered Hawks, Goalie and Cinnamon. Both hawks were returned to where they were found. Goalie, the adult, went first. We found a nice stretch of woodland next to a creek and pond behind Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, MD. Lee opened the box while I took the video shown below on my phone. Goalie wasted no time in getting through the trees and out of site.  We caught another quick glimpse of him as we headed back to our cars, and then he was gone.

Cinnamon was released in the neighborhood in Chevy Chase, MD where he was found. John and his wife Joyanna were there, along with several of their neighbors who participated in Cinnamon’s rescue, including Kathy and Steve. I took Cinnamon out of the box so I could remove a protective “wrist bumper” from his wing prior to release. That gave everyone a close-up view of this beautiful juvenile hawk. Then it was time to send him on his way. Cinnamon didn’t linger. He soared high up to a tree limb in the parkland that backs up to the homes. He surveyed his surroundings briefly, then flew out of sight.

This video shows Cinnamon flying on the creance line. I could tell from his strong flight that he was ready to go.

Pumpkin. Photograph by Suzanne Shoemaker.

New Patient!

Pumpkin
Barred Owl
Male, Juvenile

After I returned home Friday afternoon, I received a visit from Sarah Milbourne. Sarah manages the Scales and Tails Program for MD Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Scales and Tails is an educational outreach program that uses live birds to teach the public about raptors and their place in the ecosystem.

DNR had rescued a juvenile male Barred Owl from entanglement in fishing line at Deep Creek Lake in western Maryland. Fortunately, the owl had not been injured, but the monofiliment line had damaged many of his feathers. Sarah wanted to learn how to repair the owl’s damaged feathers using a technique called “imping”. Imping involves trimming back the damaged feathers and replacing them by inserting a pin between the shaft of the original feather and that of a replacement feather.

We began the imping process on Pumpkin, named in celebration of the season, but it will require more than one sitting to repair all his damaged feathers. Pumpkin will reside at Owl Moon until Sarah and I finish imping. When we are sure Pumpkin’s feathers are healthy, he will return to his home at Deep Creek Lake.

Patient Updates: October 24, 2012

Beastie Boy. Photograph by Liz Falvo.

Much has happened since our last update. Fortunately, much of the news is happy, but there is sad news to report as well.

Beastie Boy
Red-tailed Hawk
Male

Beastie Boy, the Red-tailed hawk with a fractured hallux (opposing toe) and lacerated shoulder, returned to Second Chance Wildlife Center on September 30th for follow-up x-rays and examination by Dr. Patrice Klein. It was found that the fractured hallux was poorly aligned and has developed a thick callus. The result is that Beastie Boy has lost a functional joint in that toe, which is important for capturing live-prey.

There is hope that, as the bone remodels, some function may return. It is also possible that Beastie Boy will be capable of hunting live prey even with the damaged toe. If that happens, he will be returned to the wild.

With this hope in mind, Beastie Boy was transferred to a Deron Meador, a falconer, for reconditioning and live-prey testing. If Beastie Boy cannot hunt well enough for release, we will find a good home for him as an education bird.

Elmo
Great Horned Owl
Male

Elmo, the Great Horned Owl with severe tremors (likely caused by West Nile Virus), did not improve. We treated him for ten days with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID). If you saw the video, you will understand we could not let Elmo continue to suffer with these tremors. We made the decision to euthanize him on September 27th.

Bob. Photograph by Suzanne Shoemaker.

Now for the happy news! As of the last update, three birds were being reconditioned for release: Bob, an adult Red-shouldered Hawk; Crooked Beak, a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk; and Little Bear, a juvenile Barred Owl. I am pleased to report that all three are now flying free.

Bob
Red-shouldered Hawk
Male

Bob was the first to go. He was returned to his home turf (or should I say “home air”?) in a suburban neighborhood in Gaithersburg, MD on October 6th. After making a brief stop on a nearby tree to look around, Bob took off through the next row of trees and quickly disappeared.

Crooked Beak just after her release. Photograph by Suzanne Shoemaker.

Crooked Beak
Red-shouldered Hawk
Female

Little Bear
Barred Owl
Male

Crooked Beak and Little Bear were released on the same day, October 10th. Crooked Beak was a nestling when she came to us, and therefore had never flown free. We decided to release her here at Owl Moon. She is comfortable enough with me that she might return for handouts if she has difficulty making it on her own. This is a technique called “hacking” or “soft release” and we have used it successfully with other juveniles. Crooked Beak was released at 11 am. She landed first on the roof of the mews. She sat there for several minutes scoping out her surroundings, then took flight again, made a semicircle over the back yard and headed straight over the back field and into the woods on the other side. I still have hope of seeing Crooked Beak come around again, but as far as I know, she has not returned. We hope this means she is hunting well on her own.

Little Bear was released at 4 pm, at his home on a Chesapeake Bay tributary in Severna Park, MD. In true Little Bear fashion, he foiled my attempts to photograph his release by flying out of the box and straight into the camera, then over my head and into the trees before I could refocus. I should have known better! Little Bear was always full of mischief and I have confidence that he will outsmart his prey as easily as he outsmarted me.

Cleopatra. Photograph by Liz Falvo.

Cleopatra
Great Horned Owl
Female

Cleopatra was transferred to Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research Center in Newark, Delaware on October 17th, for pre-release conditioning. I wish I could have kept her here and reconditioned her myself, but Owl Moon has only two outdoor mews, and both are currently occupied. It was in Cleopatra’s best interest to seek outdoor space for her with another rehabilitator.

TriState is a superb facility with beautiful big mews (fitting for Cleo), and their staff has generously accepted birds from us on many occasions when they have space. We are grateful to TriState for taking Cleo, and know that she is in the best possible hands.  We will return to retrieve her when she is ready for release.

Zen. Photograph by Suzanne Shoemaker.

Zen
Barred Owl
Male

Back at the ranch, the remaining patients are doing well. Zen has quieted down now that Little Bear is gone and he has a mew to himself. Zen’s outer primary feathers have been growing in for several weeks, but the increased activity with two in the mew caused damage to the developing blood feathers and he lost several. They have now begun to regrow, and we intend to keep him solitary until they are fully grown. Then we can give Zen a fair flight assessment, which we hope will demonstrate that he can be released.

Pixie. Photograph by Natasha Lewandrowski.

Pixie
Broad-winged Hawk
Male

Pixie, the juvenile Broad-winged Hawk, and Plato, the juvenile Cooper’s Hawk, are still in rehab, and both are in line for outdoor mews as soon as they become available. Meanwhile, we exercise them on a creance line most days. They enjoy getting out in the sunshine and spreading their wings. Neither is a sure bet for release, but we continue to treat them with that goal in mind.

Summer. Photograph by Suzanne Shoemaker.

Summer
Red-shouldered Hawk
Juvenile Female

Summer is showing improvement overall. She (I now think female based on weight) is active and eating well on her own, and most of her CNS symptoms have subsided. However, the visit to Dr. Jennifer Hyman the veterinary ophthalmologist, confirmed that Summer has permanent damage to her right eye. That eye has lost most, if not all, sight.

Many rehabilitators would remove Summer as a release candidate based solely on her impaired vision.  My own feelings are mixed. I want Summer to survive. I also firmly believe that the best place for a hawk is flying free in the wild. Our plan is to test fly Summer on a creance line. If she flies well, we will look for a falconer to train her and hunt with her. If she proves to her falconer that she can hunt and avoid obstacles with one good eye, then we will give Summer the chance to make it on her own.

Cinnamon and Goalie. Photograph by Suzanne Shoemaker.

New Patients!

Cinnamon
Red-shouldered Hawk
Male

John found the first, on a residential side street in Chevy Chase, MD on October 2nd. We call this juvenile male “Cinnamon” because of his unusual cinnamon-colored plumage. John had observed him standing on the roadside for hours, clearly not normal hawk behavior. He called Owl Moon Raptor Center and we picked Cinnamon up right where John first saw him. We could see some weakness in his left wing when Cinnamon made a half-hearted attempt to escape. Cinnamon later showed us he could indeed fly, but we found an abrasion on the wing near the wrist joint, probably the result of an impact. We cleaned and bandaged the wound and it has since healed completely. Cinnamon has been flown on a creance line for pre-release assessment and conditioning, and while he flies well, there is a slight droop to the injured wing following a workout. We would like to resolve this before we return him to his Chevy Chase home, but we don’t expect that to take long.

Unnamed
Red-shouldered Hawk
juvenile female

The second hawk was found in Jerry’s neighbor’s garage in Upper Marlboro, MD on October 7th. She had apparently crashed through a window and was found inside, weak and unable to stand. Jerry and his neighbors tried to feed and nurse the hawk for two days before they found Owl Moon. With the help of volunteers Matthew and Mandy, who provided rescue and transport services, she made it to Owl Moon. We treated her with fluids for dehydration, and pain and NSAID drugs for severe spinal trauma.

The hawk had respiratory symptoms as well, possibly a result of the trauma. We treated her for this with antibiotics. I took her to Opossum Pike Vet Clinic for x-rays. Dr. Barb could not find a spinal fracture, but her prognosis was guarded. She felt that, if we did not see improvement after four to five days, it was unlikely the hawk would recover from the spinal injury.

After ten days there was very little improvement in her legs. She could not stand and her respiration had worsened. We determined that euthanasia was the kindest option.

Goalie
Red-shouldered Hawk
Male

Goalie (named for reasons that will become apparent) was transferred to Owl Moon Raptor Center from Second Chance Wildlife Center on October 21st. He was brought to Second Chance on October 18th, following rescue from entanglement in a soccer net at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, MD. The rescuers (who remain anonymous) untangled him from the net and released him, but Goalie did not fly away.

Second Chance staff could not find any injuries on intake. They kept him on cage rest until their vet, Dr. Pat Klein, could examine him on October 20th. Dr. Klein found no injuries either, and recommended transfer to Owl Moon for flight-testing. Goalie is now in an outdoor mew with Summer and Cinnamon.  He flies well in the mew, but is relatively calm and quiet for a Red-shouldered Hawk. We will give him a few more days rest and flight test him on a creance line to be sure he is fit for release. Like Cinnamon, we do not expect to keep him long. We hope he can return home later this week.

New Patient: Elmo

Meet Elmo, a male great horned owl who came to Owl Moon earlier this week through our vet, Dr. Stastny. Elmo has neurologic symptoms, probably from West Nile Virus. Because the disease is so deadly, his prognosis isn’t good. You can see in the video the severity of the tremors. We will do our best to help him, and wait to see if he responds to treatment.