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.

 

Raptor Talk at Meadowside Nature Center

Sir Galahad. Photograph by Suzanne Shoemaker.

Sir Galahad. Photograph by Suzanne Shoemaker.

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.

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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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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!