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.

IMG_4905

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.

christmas_release

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 Owl Moon 2014 Calendar is Here!

IMG_4866

I am proud to present the third annual Owl Moon Raptor Center calendar! This year’s calendar features striking images and endearing stories of some of Owl Moon’s most charismatic patients of 2013, including a Northern Saw-whet Owl, an immature Bald Eagle, a juvenile Broad-winged Hawk, and a Common Barn Owl. As in previous years, it also includes an informative Raptor Calendar with important nesting and migration dates for birds of prey in our Mid-Atlantic region.

The Owl Moon calendar makes a great gift for nature-lovers! All proceeds directly support the care of orphaned and injured birds of prey. The Owl Moon 2014 calendar is available with donations of $25 or more while supplies last. Contributors of $100 dollars or more will receive five calendars. Donate today and get your calendar in time for the holidays!

Details:

  • Dates: 12 month calendar (January 1st – December 31st, 2014)
  • Dimensions: 9×12 inches
  • Materials: Durable card stock covers with a wire binding

IMG_4867

Zen’s Anniversary Gift: Freedom!

Today Owl Moon is celebrating the one year anniversary of the arrival of “Zen,” the Barred Owl featured on the February page of the 2013 Owl Moon Raptor Center calendar. Zen was hit by a car on the I-70 off-ramp in Mount Airy, MD on February 27, 2012. Wes rescued him on his way to work and transported him to Owl Moon. Today we are celebrating because on Monday, just two days before his anniversary, Zen returned home. He is finally flying free again!

Zen soon after he was admitted to Owl Moon Raptor Center. Photograph by Suzanne Shoemaker.

Zen’s rehabilitation was prolonged and for much of that time we were guarded on his prognosis for a return to the wild. His left elbow was fractured, and the resulting callus reduced range of motion in that joint. We began physical therapy early, and continued even after it appeared that his flight was impaired and release was unlikely. In hindsight, we could not give him a fair flight assessment due to feather damage. Convinced that Zen was not a release candidate, we found him a permanent home as an education ambassador at Meadowside Nature Center in Rockville, MD. Before he could be placed however, Zen went through a molt which replaced his damaged feathers. With time, Zen’s flight improved. We continued to exercise and recondition him. By November his flight had improved so much that we were convinced he could survive the rigors of life in the wild.

While we love nothing more than returning the birds to the wild, it is still a bittersweet moment. When we work with a bird as long as we have Zen. We can’t help but get to know them as individuals, and grow attached. Zen is a boisterous, irrepressible soul. He served as a foster dad for “Little Bear,” an orphaned fledgling Barred owl, and a lively companion for “Lucy”, a female Barred Owl also a victim of a car collision. He was fun to work with and we will miss him. It can be difficult to trust nature to take care of those we’ve grown to love, but because of his indomitable spirit, we know Zen is where he needs to be. We wish him a full and satisfying life, and hope he will raise lots of little Zens.

Zen (right) served as a foster dad for Little Bear. Photo by Suzanne Shoemaker

Monday was a beautiful day here, made even more beautiful by witness of Zen’s release. Fortunately, my daughter Natasha was present. Using a video camera borrowed from her friend, David (thank you!), she was able to capture the happy occasion to share with all of you. Enjoy!

You did it!

Henry the Eastern Screech-owl enjoys a scratch behind the ear-tufts. Photograph by Liz Falvo.

Henry the Eastern Screech-owl enjoys a scratch behind the ear-tufts. Photograph by Liz Falvo.

Thank you to everyone who supported Owl Moon this holiday season! With your donations, we topped our fundraising goal of $2000 dollars! I am proud to report that Owl Moon Raptor Center is starting 2013 in our strongest position ever. Your support will provide medicine and supplies to help dozens of sick, injured, and orphaned birds of prey in the coming year. We are glad to have you alongside us as we continue our mission into the new year.

Happy New Year, and THANK YOU!

– Suzanne Shoemaker

Owl Moon is a family effort. Suzanne and her husband Jan return from a session of creance flying. Photograph by Natasha Lewandrowski.

Owl Moon is a family effort. Suzanne and her husband Jan return from a session of creance flying. Photograph by Natasha Lewandrowski.

The Calendars have Arrived!

A sneak peak from the 2013 Owl Moon calendar!

A sneak peak from the 2013 Owl Moon calendar!

The 2013 Owl Moon Raptor Center calendars have arrived and they look even better than last year!

Our goal is to raise $2000 by December 31st!

Every year, Owl Moon responds to hundreds of cases throughout Maryland, and into Virginia and Pennsylvania, which involve:

  • Rehabilitating injured raptors
  • Re-nesting young raptors
  • Rescuing trapped wildlife
  • Assisting other organizations with oil-spill response

We rely exclusively on donations to cover our operating costs, including medical supplies, equipment, and transportation.

Donate $25 dollars or more, and you will receive a gorgeous 2013 calendar* (five for $100) as our way of thanking you for your support.

*while supplies last

The calendar features twelve heartwarming stories about Owl Moon patients, together with twenty four evocative full-color photographs, and a Raptor Calendar: the courtship, nesting, and migration dates for raptors native to the mid-Atlantic region.

Please contribute through our Donate page and support local birds of prey!

The Definition of Cute!

IMG_2053

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.

IMG_2056

Northern Saw-whet Owl. Photograph by Suzanne Shoemaker.

Announcing the Owl Moon Raptor Center 2013 Calendar!

Owl Moon Raptor Center 2013 Calendar, cover. Photograph by Luis Camacho.

Owl Moon Raptor Center is excited to announce our second annual calendar! The 2013 calendar features twelve heartwarming stories about Owl Moon’s patients, together with twenty four evocative full-color photographs. Seven talented photographers contributed images to this year’s calendar. We are sure you will be delighted by the beautiful imagery and the stylistic variety!  Check out the sneak peak below.

10 great reasons to pre-order your Owl Moon Calendar today!

  1. 100% of your donation supports care and treatment for injured and orphaned birds of prey.
  2. Owl Moon is funded completely by donations…so we’d um…really like it if you donated.
  3. The calendar contains many stories and images that were not featured on the blog.
  4. Owl Moon calendars make great gifts!
  5. Do you need a calendar? Do you like awesome birds of prey? You will love this calendar.
  6. Know someone else who needs a calendar? Do they like awesome birds of prey? They will love this calendar.
  7. Have a boring empty spot on your wall? You know what’s NOT boring? Birds of prey!
  8. Need a little inspiration to get you going in the morning? Birds of prey are very motivational (just ask a mouse).
  9. C’mon! You know you want one.
  10. Please, please, pleeeeeease buy a calendar!

Calendars are only available while supplies last, so pre-order yours today!

Donate: $25 each or $100 for five

Donations can be made on our Donate page. Owl Moon is not a licensed 501(C)(3), so donations are not tax deductible.

Owl Moon Raptor Center 2013 Calendar. June. Main photograph by Suzanne Shoemaker. Inset photograph by Tony Zuccarelli.

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.