Yesterday afternoon we admitted our second baby of the season; a Great Horned Owlet! She was found near Portage, WI and rescued by Nicki Christianson, a mammal rehabilitator out of Wisconsin Rapids, and good friend of REGI. She was then transported to REGI by Judy and David Marshall, two of our most reliable (and may I say, sweet) transporters from the Rapids area. This tiny owlet has been helped by so many wonderful folks so far and we are grateful for each and every one of them!
Photo above: Rehabilitation technician, Alberta Halfmann, gets a weight on the tiny owlet. Judging by the weight, we believe this owlet is female, and she looks none too pleased to be handled by people! This is a good sign, it means that she has not been imprinted to humans!
Photo above: She is also very hesitant to take food from people, another really great sign! She knows that humans are not where food comes from. Excellent!
The following photos are a series of shots of her gulping down a delicious meal... enjoy!
Photo above: She looks quite pleased with herself after that undertaking! She may have looked uncomfortable swallowing that mouse, but believe it or not, baby Great Horned Owls go through this 13 to 18 times per day! That's right, this tiny owlet eats 13 to 18 mice per day! Wow!
Even at this young age you can see the feather tufts on her head that give her species its name and her large powerful talons that will one day catch her own food. Her "pantaloons" are also visible. Those voluminous feathers that resemble the loose-fitting, ruffled undergarments of days gone by, provide important insulation and also make the owls look larger (and cuddlier ;D) than they really are.
Great Horned Owls are among the earliest nesters in Wisconsin with breeding season being in January and February. This owlet is only a few weeks old and is much too young to be off on her own. At a month and a half, young owlets are referred to as "branchers" because they begin exploring the tree branches around their open stick nests, but still depend on their parents for meals. This owlet isn't even at the branching stage yet.
We are currently making the important decision as to the best way to care for this owlet. We can place her with a foster parent here as a single owlet or we can find a center that has a foster with another owlet so they could become surrogate siblings. We will keep you updated on this beautiful baby.
I know people are wondering about the eaglet admitted last week and I'm pleased to say he's doing very well! Today we needed to clean his mew and weigh him to mark his progress; one of the rare times we handle him.
Photo above: The eaglet is being weighed to make sure his growth is on the right track. He is able to sit quite tall and in a couple weeks he will be able to stand!
His weight is definitely growing at a healthy pace! Bald eaglets gain 1 pound every 4 to 5 days and that is exactly what he's done. When he was admitted 9 days ago he weighed 2 pounds and today he is nearly 5 pounds! In another few weeks he will weigh as much as an adult! I'm sure that parents are glad human children don't grow that fast!
Another sign of this eaglet growing up is his new look. Bald Eagles hatch as white fluffy things as you saw in the first blog about this eaglet. Within a couple weeks they trade in the white fuzz for black fuzz. Soon he will trade all of his fuzz for adult feathers. Watching him develop new feathers and learn to stand gives us all of the same feelings I'm sure parents feel when their child rolls over, crawls, or walks for the first time. We will keep you updated on the growth of this baby as well.
This is the time of year when our number of patients explodes. We get calls about injured and orphaned birds from literally all across the state. Because Northwoods Wildlife Center cannot currently care for birds due to a loss of their permits, we are getting patients from farther north than we did in years past. People that find sick or injured birds may not always be able or willing to transport the birds themselves, that's when our volunteer transport drivers become the heroes. Because our patients come from so far away, our need for volunteer transport drivers has increased. We desperately need volunteer drivers from all over Wisconsin and maninly South Central Wisconsin (Nekoosa, Wisconsin Rapids, and surrounding areas).
We would love to be able to pick up every single one of our patients ourselves, but that is simply not possible. We are a non-profit organization that receives NO state or federal funding. The cost to care for our patients is so high that adding the cost for transportation would mean we would have to close our doors to many birds in need. In addition, we have so many patients that we need to be here with them. If we were always dashing off to pick up others, they wouldn't receive the terrific care they do currently. Prompt transportation can mean the difference between life and death for our patients. If you are interested in potentially saving the lives of birds by becoming a volunteer avian transport driver, please give us a call (715) 623-2563. We need you, but more importantly, the birds need you for a second chance at life.
REGI Wildlife Educator