Earlier this year we had a week of really terrible weather in the Bay area. Numerous stories were featured on the news about people whose homes were damaged in the high winds and harsh storms. One story that did not make headlines was about an Eastern Screech Owl family that lost their home in one of the storms too.
It all started when a resident at a local apartment complex came out to his car one Saturday morning to discover a tree had fallen over on top of his car.When he and his friend decided to roll the tree off his car they noticed a small white fuzz ball roll across the roof and come to a stop just before the edge.
As they got a closer look they realized it was a baby bird. They instantly began checking the tree for a nest and discovered the mother owl wedged down in the trunk of the tree. The placed the baby on the edge of the trunk and began to call around for help. Luckily they reached us and we happen to have a volunteer, Ria, about 15 minutes away. She went ahead over to assess the situation while the next closely available volunteer packed up the needed gear to renest the family. When Ria arrived she immediately located mom, the baby and one unhatched but crushed egg. The first step was getting the baby out of the fridged cold while she worked to split open the trunk where mom was stuck. Mom was clearly in shock and was non-responsive during her physical exam. Instead of renesting the priority shifted to caring for mom so that she could care for and raise the surviving baby.
While the renesting team began to survey the area and select a suitable tree for the family, Ria rushed the mom and baby to Busch Gardens Tampa where Dr. Pete was able to take a better assess mom’s injuries. Sure enough mom was hurt but had been through enough for one day so Dr. Pete wrapped her wing and gave her some pain meds and booked her an appointment for first thing Sunday morning.
Overnight we monitored the pair closely and noticed that mom paid no attention to the baby. She did not attempt to feed him or keep him warm. So, while mom was having her xrays done we stepped up and fed the little guy. When xrays were done it was determined that mom did not have any breaks but she did have quite a bit of bruising and swelling from impact. With another band of storms heading in the pair spent a few more nights with us watching and weighing and assisting in the care of the baby. After a few days of pain management and rest mom was feeling much better and had finally stepped up to the parenting plate.
Now, it is important to note that in screech owl families moms do not typically leave the nest to search for food unless she is on the brink of starving herself. The fathers are the ones who provide all of the food for the growing family and therefore even though mom was feeding the baby we were unable to renest them at this point. The risk was too great since they had not maintained a relationship with dad that they would not be provided the food needed to survive. We decided the best thing to do we be to partner again with Nature’s World Wildlife Rescue in order to play dad but remain as hands off as possible. The pair was set up in a naturalistic enclosure where we provided them a nightly meal and cleaned up their scraps. The baby will finish growing up under mom’s care and direction and once the baby is fully fledged we will take them back to the area in which they were rescued. In the meantime we will continue to enjoy watching mom do what she does best and teach her young one how to be an owl!
If you find any sick, injured, or suspected orphaned wildlife we would like to remind you to give us or another permitted rehabilitator a call. We also ask that you consider making a donation to Owl’s Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife so that we may continue our work to conserve and protect wildlife in the Tampa Bay Area.