By Joanna Fitzgerald | Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital
An eastern screech owlet was among the 137 animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week.
The eastern screech owlet was found in a yard below a queen palm. The owlet appeared uninjured but there was a concern the owlet might have been injured in the fall. The owl was given a full physical exam and placed in an animal intensive care unit to rest. Once warmed and rested, the owlet was eager to eat. The baby owl received supportive care for less than 24 hours; no signs of injury developed so the baby was cleared for renesting.
It was impossible to locate the owl’s nest in the queen palm by looking up at the tree from the ground, so hospital staff enlisted the help of Signature Tree Care. A bucket truck allowed Signature Tree Care staffer Dylan Jacques to survey the tree from above. Dylan surveyed the tree and quickly found two more owlets tucked in a crevice type nest within the palm. The nest was very precarious so a nest box was installed in a tree nearby and all three owlets were placed inside. Our goal was to give the owl family a safe nest and eliminate the chance that any of the babies would fall again. A check of the nest box the following day showed an adult owl in the entrance hole to the nest box; the owl family had been successfully reunited and relocated.
Many species of wildlife (flying squirrels, bats, eastern screech owls, red-bellied woodpeckers, purple martins, eastern bluebirds) will use artificial nest boxes to rear their young. Consider helping wildlife by installing nest boxes on your property. Many species of wildlife excavate their cavity nests in dead trees which are prone to being blown down during heavy storms. An artificial nest box provides a safe and secure home for these species to raise their young. Providing a nest box is also a great way to encourage native wildlife to set up residency in your yard.
Call the Conservancy if you are interested in the design plans to build a nest box for native wildlife. Hospital staff can provide tips that will better ensure the intended species of wildlife will occupy the nest box.
A Word of Thanks
Special thanks to the staff from the Collier County Sherriff’s Office and the Greater Naples Fire Department who responded to a call for help at Golden Gate Community Park involving a common nighthawk entangled in line suspended between two trees. Watching the nighthawk struggle to free itself was sickening. Although the fire crew couldn’t reach the tree with their truck, they were determined to help the bird.
One fireman climbed the tree, cut the wire, then climbed on the Sherriff’s vehicle to reach the other end of the line. As soon as the line was cut, the bird was scooped up in a towel and transported to the Conservancy. The ordeal took two hours. The compassion showed by each and every one of the people involved in this rescue is inspiring. To see a video clip of the rescue visit the Conservancy’s Facebook page.
Six eastern cottontails, a purple gallinule, eight common grackles, four mourning doves, three Virginia opossums, two red-bellied woodpeckers, three brown pelicans, a royal tern, a double-crested cormorant, an eastern screech owl, a banded watersnake, a yellow-billed cuckoo, a Florida red-bellied turtle, a downy woodpecker, two northern mockingbirds, a common barn owl, a prairie warbler, and a Florida box turtle were released this past week.
Opportunities to Help
Please visit the Conservancy website at www.conservancy.org to view all of the amazing volunteer opportunities at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. As many of our volunteers head north for the summer we are left with coverage gaps in our schedule at our busiest time of year. Please get involved if you think you could commit to one four hour shift a week. Your volunteer time, as well as your membership and donations, are vital in helping us continue our work to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.