Our first baby of 2019 arrived last week! It is a young Great-horned Owl. He fell about 70 feet from its nest in northern WI. He has internal bleeding and a big lump in his abdomen from the bruising. The morning after he arrived, even as he recovers from his injuries, he was placed with a same species foster dad owl to assure he is growing up knowing he is Great-horned Owl and not imprinted to humans.
Because he was injured, the current fostering area is a smaller enclosure and indoors so we can better monitor his condition and keep him warm. His medical issues are resolving, He is beginning to eat on his own. We have limited contact with him.
We prefer to reunite babies with their parents when possible, but in this case, it was not because the owlet was injured. Great-horned Owls are our earliest breeding bird in the Northwoods of WI. They do not make their own nest. Often, they use old nest of crows or hawks. That works out well for them, but sometimes, they use an old squirrel nest that is still frozen together when they lay eggs and hatch youngsters. When spring arrives. the ice that was holding leaf constructed squirrel nest together melts. What was once a stable nest falls apart and the owlets fall to the ground. That is exactly what happened in this case.
Many thanks to the alert landowner for finding the owlet, attempting to reunite the family and then alerting REGI when it was apparent the baby was injured,
Thanks to Kevin Grenzer for making the drive to get the baby and transport him back to REGI for care.
Owls, ducks, geese, crane and vultures are just a few of the species that imprint to humans very quickly. Depending on age, keeping these babies with people for even a day can cause irreparable damage to their identity. Imprinting is different than being "tame". Imprinting is a permanent change in the birds psyche. It will forever identify as a human and often end up being euthanized as placement for these long lived species as individuals is very limited. If you find a baby of any species please call your local wildlife rehabilitation center for assistance ASAP. It is the little ones best chance at being wild. Below is a link to a site that lists wildlife rehabilitators by state and area as well as a link that will discuss the process of imprinting.