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.
You did it!
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
The Calendars have Arrived!
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!
Announcing the Owl Moon Raptor Center 2013 Calendar!
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!
- 100% of your donation supports care and treatment for injured and orphaned birds of prey.
- Owl Moon is funded completely by donations…so we’d um…really like it if you donated.
- The calendar contains many stories and images that were not featured on the blog.
- Owl Moon calendars make great gifts!
- Do you need a calendar? Do you like awesome birds of prey? You will love this calendar.
- Know someone else who needs a calendar? Do they like awesome birds of prey? They will love this calendar.
- Have a boring empty spot on your wall? You know what’s NOT boring? Birds of prey!
- Need a little inspiration to get you going in the morning? Birds of prey are very motivational (just ask a mouse).
- C’mon! You know you want one.
- 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 is Featured in the Gazette!
Check out this wonderful article about Owl Moon which was just featured in the Gazette! Thank you to St. John Barnard-Smith for the write-up!
Patient Updates: October 29, 2012
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.
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
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, 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.
Great Horned Owl
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.
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 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 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.
Great Horned Owl
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.
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, 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 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.
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.
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 (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.
My Visit to Owl Moon
Hello, Natasha here!
I am currently visiting my parents and Owl Moon Raptor Center at their home in Boyds. As some of you may know from my blog, I am in the process of moving from Seattle, WA, to New Brunswick, NJ with my husband, Dustin. We have been staying in Boyds for a few weeks while we search for a new apartment.
Suzanne, my mother, wasted no time in putting me to work helping with the raptors. Since I have been here I have helped her administer medications and fluids to several patients, driven two birds to Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research Center in Newark, DE, and sewn protective mosquito-net curtains for the outdoor mews to keep the birds safe from West Nile Virus, not to mention writing this blog!
One of the birds I drove to Tri-State was Sonya, the female Cooper’s hawk that was injured in a collision with a car back in February. Sonya has recovered from her injury, but she needs to show she is capable of catching live prey before she can be released. Sonya’s injury has permanently weakened her leg, so Suzanne canot fly her on the creance line for reconditioning. At Tri-State she will have the opportunity to prove her hunting proficiency while exercising in large outdoor flight cages.
At Owl Moon there are seven patients presently on site. Zen the barred owl is still here. Pending a permit approval, Zen will be transferred to Meadowside Nature Center in Rockville, MD where he will be used for education. There is also a young barred owl we call Little Bear. Little Bear was found orphaned and emaciated. He is healthy now, but he will stay with us until he shows he is capable of hunting on his own, and then be released near where he was found in Pasadena, MD.
Bob, the red-shouldered hawk is re-growing some missing tail feathers. They have started to come in and we are hopeful he will soon be ready for release. In the meantime, he shares a mew with another red-shouldered hawk, Crooked Beak, a fledgling who was found with (you guessed it) a misaligned beak. Her beak is nearly in alignment now, but we cannot release her until we are sure that it will wear properly and not overgrow after she is released.
A fledgling osprey we named Kite arrived on July 20th. Kite was found struggling to free himself from fishing line caught on his toe, on a tree limb 50 feet off the ground. The most recent additions arrived yesterday, July 22. The first is a fledgling male red-shouldered hawk with symptoms of West Nile Virus. He is being treated with anti-inflammatory drugs and fluids. The other new arrival is a fledgling male Cooper’s hawk. He was injured when he flew into a window. Though he does not exhibit any external injuries, he is unable to stand. We will take him to the vet for X-rays on Wednesday.
The most endearing patient is Henry, a fledgling screech owl. Henry came to Owl Moon on May 3rd after falling out of his nest cavity. He sustained an eye injury in the fall resulting in blindness in his right eye. His best chance to learn how to hunt would be with his parents, however, so Suzanne returned him to his nest. Unfortunately, she had to take him back when it seemed his parents had not returned to take care of him. Henry’s future is uncertain. If he shows he can hunt, he will be released. If not, he will be placed as an education bird.
For now Henry is being fostered with an adult screech owl, Root’n Toot’n. While I hope Henry can be released, I know he would make an great education bird also. He has such an endearing personality. Check out these adorable videos of him!
That brings us up to date on the current patients. We look forward to sharing many more stories of patients that have come and gone this busy nesting season in the near future!
Part One: A Rare Visitor
The onset of “baby season,” and the addition of several new patients, have made for a busy and exciting three weeks at Owl Moon Raptor Center. So much has happened since my last post that I’m going to break up this update into two. This post will focus on new and existing patients. Part two will tell the stories of some baby owls we helped reunite with their families.
I am especially excited to share one of the newbies with you. Elfie is a long-eared owl, which is a species I have never encountered before in my career as a wildlife rehabilitator. The Long-eared owl is not considered a native of Maryland. Its range extends mostly north and west of us. MD Department of Natural Resources rates Long-eared owls in the state’s Rare, Threatened, or Endangered Species List as SH: historically known from Maryland but not verified for an extended period of time usually 20 or more years), with the expectation that it may be rediscovered. Even in their normal range, long-eared owls are not often seen. They are strictly nocturnal, and very secretive.
Elfie was found by Diane on the ground just outside her fenced backyard in Gaithersburg, MD on March 22nd. Elfie may well have been just passing through on northward migration when an accident befell her. It was Diane’s dog barking and the ruckus the crows were making that drew her attention to Elfie. She acted quickly, placing the owl in a box and transporting it to Second Chance Wildlife Center. Second Chance examined, took X-rays and treated the owl for three days before transferring her to Owl Moon on March 25th.
The X-rays showed nothing remarkable, but it became evident by observation that Elfie had suffered a soft-tissue injury in her right shoulder. The evidence was in her “threat posture.” When a grounded owl feels threatened, their normal response is to try and look bigger and more threatening by raising and turning both wings forward-facing, and clapping their beaks. When Elfie tries to look bigger, only one wing comes up, on her good left side. We placed her on a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to reduce her pain and inflammation, and kept her confined to encourage her to rest her injured shoulder for a full three weeks.
This week we began giving her short exercise sessions on a creance line to see how she’s coming along and to help her begin to stretch and return to full health, we hope. It is difficult to say if she will have a complete recovery after only two flying sessions, but I am optimistic. She is not gaining much altitude, but flies a good distance before landing. Her right wing is slightly off, but overall her flight is balanced, and we know she is capable of full range of motion in both wings. Only time will tell, and we will keep you posted.
Unfortunately, two other new patients did not make it, but I will tell you about them because I feel that all my patients deserve to have their stories told. The same day we received Elfie, Frederick County Animal Control Officer Michael Douglas brought me a beautiful adult male red-shouldered hawk. It was apparent that this bird had been grounded for some time, unable to hunt. He was weak and emaciated, and his right wing was broken. I could feel a callus already forming near the wrist joint. I knew the damage was severe and this bird had suffered a lot already, so I brought him directly to Second Chance for an x-ray. What I didn’t know until I saw the films, was that the damage was caused by a gunshot. The shot had broken bones in two places on the end of the wing, one right at the wrist joint. There was no possible way to repair the damage, and sadly, euthanasia was the only humane option. I reported our findings to Officer Douglas and State and Federal authorities. Officer Douglas is doggedly investigating a solid lead in the case. I wish him success and hope that justice prevails.
The other sad case was an adult female barred owl, found by Georgina in a bamboo thicket behind her house in Rockville, MD. Like Diane, it was her dog that first alerted her to the owl. I picked the owl up and brought her back to Owl Moon. She was thin, weak, and dehydrated, but there was no evidence of trauma. She was experiencing respiratory distress, so I treated her with an NSAID and gave her a good dose of fluids to rehydrate her. Sadly she passed away during the night. Respiratory distress can be caused by toxic substances such as lead and rat poisons, which are increasingly common in our environment, and likely to wind up in raptors through the food chain. Because the cause of this owl’s death was a mystery, I asked Dr. Pierce at the MD Department of Health Laboratory in Frederick to perform a necropsy. She kindly agreed, and though she was unable to find any gross lesions, she sent tissues out for histopathology and toxicology testing. I have not yet received a report of the results.
Now for some updates to the patients you know. On March 27th two of our red-shouldered hawks, Soldier-girl and Rufus, were transferred to Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research Center. We had done for them as much as we could do at Owl Moon. Both birds needed to be live-prey tested in a large flight cage before we could be sure they could hunt successfully with their respective handicaps: Soldier-girl’s being a weakened grip in the left foot, and Rufus’s being his missing right eye. If these two could prove they could hunt, they would be reconditioned and released.
Dr. Erica Miller, an avian specialist, examined Rufus prior to prey testing. What she found was not good. His left, and only remaining eye was visually impaired. It, too, must have been injured by the vehicle impact that ruined his right eye. The news was devastating. We had all grown fond of him. However, it did explain the observations I had noted about his behavior in the mew. He was more likely to fly into things, such as perches and walls, than the other red-shoulders, and he often perched with his blind eye oriented toward me. Of course, being blind in one eye might be enough to explain some crashing, but I have released other birds that were blind or impaired in one eye, who could still navigate around a mew and catch live prey. Tri-State went ahead with live-prey testing, but sadly, Rufus began losing weight after four days with access to live prey. They decided to euthanize, and sadly I agreed. In light of the new information, and with knowledge that his disposition was not suited to life in captivity, I knew there could be no satisfactory life for him.
Fortunately, there was good news from Tri-State as well. Soldier-girl, the juvenile red-shouldered hawk I have been nursing along for months following her nasty leg fracture, caught and killed three live mice on her first day out in the flight cage. That’s the way it is supposed to be done! So Soldier-girl is now on the fast track to release, and you can be sure I will be there to witness and photograph the event. I plan to bring her back to Owl Moon for the occasion.
Meanwhile at OMRC, Squeak-toy, the juvenile male red-shouldered hawk still shares a mew with Bob, the adult male. Squeak-toy is due to be transferred to Hawk Mountain Sanctuary this month. His new home is ready and his transfer awaits only the final approval of their permit, which was caught up in a backlog of paperwork at the US Fish and Wildlife Permitting Office. Bob is doing well and receiving regular flight exercise to recondition him for release, though his release may be held up until he grows in a few tail feathers. He arrived in rehab short four feathers on the right side, and he has yet to grow them in. He would have difficulty steering with such an asymmetric tail; so we’d like to see some feather replacement before we turn him loose.
Zen, the barred owl who was hit by a car in Mt. Airy, MD and suffered a fracture of the process of his left elbow, is barely tolerating his daily physical therapy (PT) sessions and every other day creance flying exercise. His name, which seemed so fitting when he arrived, has proved to be somewhat ironic. I have never known a more rascally and determined barred owl! Each time I go to catch him for his PT session; I grit my teeth and prepare for his latest evasive action. Unfortunately, Zen’s elbow therapy is proving to be a losing battle. The callus that formed around the fractured chip has grown large, and impedes the action of the elbow joint, reducing extension of his wing by more than 25 degrees. The result is that he will never fly well enough for release. Fortunately, his bold and mischievous personality makes him a good candidate for education. Unfortunately for Zen, Barred owls are not in short supply. If you would like to help find Zen a home please inquire at your local nature center.
Sonya, the adult Cooper’s Hawk that was hit by a car, resulting in a compound fracture in her left leg (tibiotarsus), is finally outdoors in a mew. She is much happier there. She was so stir crazy that I only kept her confined indoors for five days following her pin removal on March 22nd. Sonya still has a way to go before we can consider her a release candidate. She does not bear full weight on the leg, nor does she grip perches with that foot yet, but she is gradually improving in both areas, and as long as she is improving there is hope. I remember when Soldier-girl was at this stage of recovery and it was difficult to imagine her ever being ready for release.
That brings us up to date on the patients. I can’t wait to share with you the pictures and videos of the adorable baby owlets.