Monday, April 23, 2012

First Babies of 2012

We admitted our first baby birds of the 2012 season in the form of two little Great Horned Owlets. These two came from separate nests and are of different ages. Great Horned Owls are very early nesters (they begin nesting in January here in Wisconsin), and they are usually among the first babies to arrive at our clinic each year.

This Great Horned Owlet was found in Marathon Park in Wausau on the ground. Her parents were nowhere to be found so a trusted volunteer caught her up and brought her to REGI. She is approximately 6 weeks old. She is fairly thin and it is likely that her parents abandoned her.

This little Great Horned Owlet was found on the ground in the northwoods. He had fallen approximately 50 feet from his nest onto the ground. The kind people that found him noticed his sibling had been killed by some crows. To save him from the same fate he was brought to REGI. This owlet is younger than the first at only about 10 days old. His egg tooth can still be seen at the tip of his curved bill. This little white bump on his beak helped him to break out of his egg just a few days ago. It will soon fall off and he will be left with a perfectly normal-looking beak. (To see a video of this little owlet eating his supper visit our YouTube Channel at

Aside from the babies we also admitted a few adult birds. One of those birds was this Mourning Dove with a broken wing. Mourning Doves are very common and frequently overlooked, but they are really lovely birds. The beautiful blue around the eye and their black spots make them quite stunning. Their mournful cooing call gives these birds their name, and they may coo back to you if you mimic them. The loud whistling sound they create when they fly is produced by the feathers of their wings and not the voice of the bird. These doves tend to hold tight and take off at the last moment which makes them fairly vulnerable to being hit by fast-moving vehicles.

This adult Mourning Dove came in with a broken right wing. The wings have been taped together to allow the bones to heal in the proper position. 

On Friday we were visited by Dr. Shelli Dubay's Techniques of Captive Wildlife Management class from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Dr. Dubay's students make a yearly trip up to REGI to learn more about avian rehabilitation and education. They get a rare look into the lives of avian rehabilitators and get to learn a little more about why we do what we do. They also get to meet a few of our education birds and learn what makes a raptor. We look forward to seeing them and Dr. Dubay each year! This year the class got an extra treat in the form of a mid-April snowstorm. After having 80 degree weeks in March we were greeted Friday morning with three inches of beautiful snow. It's hard to get bored with the weather in Wisconsin! It's always changing!

The captive wildlife management class from UWSP are photographed in the aftermath of Thursday's mid April snowstorm. 

In the spring some of our education birds begin to lay eggs. To prevent breeding we typically don't house males and females together, therefore the eggs aren't fertilized. Like chickens, a natural process in a wild bird's life is to lay eggs whether they're fertilized or not. One of our education Eastern Screech Owls surprised us the other day with two beautiful eggs. After she realized that they weren't going to hatch she easily gave them up.

These two perfect eggs were laid by one of our little Eastern Screech Owls. The size of these eggs is quite surprising since the little owl that laid them is hardly taller than 6 inches. 

This is the pretty little red-phased Eastern Screech Owl that is the "mother" of the unfertilized eggs in the photo above. Pretty shocking that this little lady laid eggs with a larger diameter than a quarter!

That's all for today. Thanks everyone!

Karissa Mohr
Wildlife Educator

1 comment:

  1. Love your shots. Two of our Horned Owls were rescued the other day for the same reasons. Good luck to them....hope they get a second chance out in the wild. I graduated from UWSP and live in Tucson now. Great memories. Thanks for sharing your report. The Eastern Screech is beautiful.