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.
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’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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
It’s hard to believe it, but on October 18th the Owl Moon Raptor Center Blog will be one year old! It’s been a great year too. Since launching, we have shared the stories of OMRC’s patients with over 5000 site visitors in 57 countries! We have learned quite a bit about blogging too. For one thing, it takes a LOT of time. OMRC is the busiest in the spring and summer when young raptors are fledging and leaving the nest. It has been challenging for Suzanne to find time to write in between taking care of all of those birds, so starting this month we are going to try something new. We will give short, frequent updates on patients as they come in and developments occur. As time permits, we will tell longer more in-depth stories. We hope that this new format will make it easier for readers to follow along with the patient stories as they occur.
Without further ado, let’s get to some patient updates!
When last we wrote, Owl Moon was in the process of transferring Zen to Meadowside Nature Center in Rockville, MD. It seemed that his injured elbow would never heal well enough for him to survive in the wild. In the last few weeks, however, Zen has made a surprising amount of progress. After molting his damaged feathers and growing in a full new set, his flight is looking stronger and more even than before. It now seems possible that Zen might be releasable. If not, we will proceed with the transfer to Meadowside. We will give him more time to build his strength and complete his molt before making a determination.
Bob has finally regrown his missing tail feathers, and is currently being reconditioned for release.
In the last post, we introduced you to Crooked Beak, a juvenile red-shouldered hawk with a misaligned beak. Great news! After considerable time and effort, her beak is back in alignment. She is currently being reconditioned in preparation for release.
Little Bear, another newbie from our last post, is also in the process of being reconditioned for release. When birds come to Owl Moon as juveniles it is important for us to test their hunting skills with live prey before returning them to the wild. Little Bear will be released on his home turf and we hope he will reunite with his parents. It is best for young raptors to learn to hunt with parental support, but their instincts are strong, and they can make it on their own.
Eastern Screech Owl
We have decided not to release Henry, the adorable young screech owl featured in last post’s videos. His damaged eye would make him vulnerable to predators in the wild and he would have difficulty hunting without the depth perception that two good eyes offer. The good news is that Henry will make a great education bird once a suitable arrangement is found.
Another patient we introduced last time was Kite, a juvenile osprey found dangling in a tree with his toe caught in fishing line. We are happy to report that Kite’s injuries were minor. He was released where he was found in Edgewater, MD on July 25th. Many onlookers, including some of the firemen who rescued him, came to see him off.
Plato is a new patient at OMRC. He was rescued in La Plata, MD on July 22nd after flying into a window. When Plato arrived, his case looked grim. He suffered spinal compression from the impact. We treated him with NSAIDs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, with analgesics for pain, for several weeks, while he slowly regained the use of his legs. Plato is now able to stand, perch, and walk, though his legs are weak, and he sometimes rests on his hocks for support and balance. He can also fly. It seems that the spinal trauma affected the use of his legs more than his wings. We cannot yet determine Plato’s chances for a full recovery. His progress thus far is encouraging, but nerve damage can require months to heal, and he may never recover to where he can be released. Unfortunately, Cooper’s hawks do poorly in captivity. If he does not recover fully he will need to be euthanized. We continue to hope.
Eastern Screech Owl
David is another new patient. He is a juvenile male screech owl like Henry, but you will notice they do not look alike. Unlike most owls, screech owls come in two different colors. David is a gray phase screech owl. Henry is a red phase. David was found at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland, and brought to Owl Moon on July 31st. He had a soft tissue (muscle and/or nerve) injury in his left wing and the damage appears to be permanent. He is not flying well enough for release at this point. We will seek an education placement for him if his flight does not improve soon.
Pixie is a Broad-winged hawk. He earned his name by charming us with his playful peeping sounds and bouncing around in his cage when he thinks no one is watching. Pixie was found at Catoctin Mountain State Park on August 5th. He wasn’t flying, but he had no visible injuries. X-rays revealed a fractured coracoid. The coracoid is a bone that runs between the shoulder and the breastplate, and it is critical for flying. The bone has since healed, and we just started him flying on the creance line. His flight does not look good at this point, but there is still time for it to improve.
Great Horned Owl
Cleopatra came to Owl Moon on August 18th. She arrived unable to stand, uncoordinated, disoriented and lethargic. The symptoms suggest neurological impairment, probably due to West Nile Virus. Her prognosis looked grim, but day by day she has carried on. In Suzanne’s experience, adult birds seem to fare better against the disease than juveniles, but it is still devastating. Cleopatra is one tough bird though. She has regained her ability to perch, she is eating on her own, and she has her great-horned “attitude” back! Nothing is certain at this point, but her strength is definitely working in her favor.
Summer was found near the Pennsylvania/Maryland border. He came to Owl Moon through a fellow rehabber, David Coppersmith. Summer’s symptoms indicate West Nile Virus. His condition is improving but we are worried that he might be permanently disabled. He eats, but he doesn’t recognize food until it is waved close to his face. His vision may be impaired as a result of the virus. Suzanne has an appointment to take him to the vet for examination. For now he has joined the other red-shouldered hawks in the outdoor mew, but is receiving extra attention.
Beastie Boy was transferred to Owl Moon from Second Chance Wildlife Center on September 7th. He collided with a car when he flew up from a roadside deer carcass he had been feeding on. Second Chance treated Beastie for a deep laceration on his left shoulder and a fractured hallux (back toe) on the right foot. The shoulder wound has healed, but it remains to be determined if he can fly well enough to return to the wild and hunt. We hope so. Beastie is not content to remain idle in his cage while his fractured toe mends.
Lastly, there is Duck. Duck isn’t actually a duck, but he was found in water. He was discovered clinging to the side of a horse trough in Jefferson, MD, on September 7th. He was close to drowning when he was rescued. Duck is another suspected case of West Nile Virus (WNV). He appears off-balance and uncoordinated, and these symptoms of WNV can cause birds to wind up in predicaments they would normally avoid, such as landing in a horse trough. He is receiving Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, the standard WNV treatment, just in case. He is doing well so far, but it is too early to tell.