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.

 

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!

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.