Wow, folks! Where do I begin? The past two days have been a whirlwind! Your show of support has been incredible. I am grateful to all of you for your caring concern about this beautiful creature, “Trust,” an American Bald Eagle, that has been placed in Owl Moon’s care.
To update you, we brought Trust to Bennett Creek Animal Hospital this morning, where we took radiographs, and Dr. Debbie Deans examined her to get a clearer picture of her injuries. We learned that she has a fracture in her left shoulder. The coracoid bone, which runs from her shoulder to the breastplate was fractured mid-shaft from an impact, presumably caused by a motor vehicle. The coracoid is an important bone for flight because it supports the shoulder during the pull of the downstroke. Therefore, the prognosis for her returning to full flight is guarded. We have wrapped that wing to her body to immobilize it for at least 3 weeks, so the fracture can heal. We will remove the wrap periodically to do physical therapy and keep the joints mobile. We are not certain that our efforts will be successful, but we will give her the best possible chance of recovery of flight.
Another thing we learned from the radiographs is that there was some trauma to Trust’s cranial air sacs from the impact. Air sacs are part of a bird’s respiratory system. We think she can recover from this, but it is affecting her breathing, and there is still a small amount of internal bleeding evident in her mouth, so she is not completely “out of the woods” yet. She is, however, alert and on her feet. She went off her food for much of today, but tonight she regained some appetite when we put a quail at her feet.
I am posting a few pictures here, and a video of Trust eating fish, on our website. I will write more tomorrow. Thank you again for your support, and for your financial contributions to our efforts. Donations will be used to purchase fish and fowl, to feed Trust, and to care for the many hawks and owls under our care. We appreciate it!!! Please keep Trust in your thoughts and prayers.
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.
Here is a link to follow-up story written by the Potomac Almanac about Mama bird‘s release.
Good Morning! This story about our streak of Eastern Screech-owls came out in the Washington Post Kids Post online today. Look for it in print tomorrow in the Sunday Post. It includes some cute pics of the little guys! Read the story here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/kidspost/caring-for-feathered-friends/2014/01/09/faa5efd8-7668-11e3-af7f-13bf0e9965f6_story.html
You are invited to a free raptor talk at Meadowside Nature Center! I will share stories about wildlife rehabilitation and my work with birds of prey. Two of my former patients, Duke (formerly known as “Sir Galahad”) and Sterling, will be there too! You can read Duke’s story here.
Light refreshments will be provided. This event is free and open to the public, but space is limited so please go to the event page or call 301-258-4034 to register. I’d love to see you there!
Wednesday, January 15, 6:45-8:30pm
Nature Matters: Rehabbing Raptors at Owl Moon Raptor Center
5100 Meadowside Lane, Rockville, MD 20855
Master Wildlife Rehabilitator Suzanne Shoemaker shares her experiences and stories from working with raptors at the Owl Moon Raptor Center (OMRC), in Boyds, MD. Suzanne is the founder and operator of OMRC and an expert on animal behavior, animal adaptations, and ecology. Two of Meadowside’s birds will be present at the lecture — both rehabilitated by Suzanne! Free. Ages 14 and up. Call 301-258-4034 to register. Light refreshments provided.
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.
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.
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!
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!
- Dates: 12 month calendar (January 1st – December 31st, 2014)
- Dimensions: 9×12 inches
- Materials: Durable card stock covers with a wire binding
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!