Baby owl admitted after hawk attack

By Joanna Fitzgerald | Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital

A great horned owlet was among the 53 animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week.

The baby great horned owlet was admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital after falling 40 feet from its nest. The baby was recently hatched as was evidenced by the presence of an egg tooth — a hard white structure on the top beak, which is used to breakout of the shell when a baby bird hatches.

The owlet sustained minor injuries in the fall which eliminated the possibility of returning the baby to its nest. Currently, the owlet is recovering in the nursery at the von Arx Wildlife Hospital.

Hospital staff received a call about another great horned owlet from nursery owner Hector Diaz. This owlet’s fall was caused by a red-shouldered hawk attacking the baby in the nest. Although the parent owl immediately squashed the attack, the baby fell to the ground. Once on the ground, the young owl climbed onto a seven foot tree stump. Photos indicated the owl was uninjured and could be re-nested.

Photos by Hector Diaz

Hospital volunteers Ron and Gaylene Vasaturo willingly answered our request for help with the re-nesting. Diaz and his co-worker Oscar Gallardo were eager to help as well; they had a ladder on site and easily secured the wicker basket “nest” to a tree close to the original nest tree.

Once everything was in place, Ron retrieved the owlet from the tree stump, handed the bird to Hector who climbed the ladder and placed the owlet in the basket.

Hector agreed to monitor the nest for any signs of trouble. The adults resumed caring for the baby and within a few days the youngster began making short flights from the basket onto branches in nearby trees.

Staff greatly appreciates our volunteers and the help Hector and Oscar provided. Re-nesting can be challenging. When members of the public care and willingly assist, it makes our jobs easier and allows wildlife staff the time we need to focus on animals in the hospital in need of medical attention.

If you care about helping wildlife — take action, become a volunteer! The rewards of helping an animal in need are beyond compare.

Want to help wildlife?

Recent Releases — 27 Animals Returned Home

  • 8 brown pelicans
  • 2 peninsula cooters
  • 10 eastern cottontails
  • 1 laughing gull
  • 1 burrowing owl
  • 1 grey squirrel
  • 1 Florida red-bellied turtle
  • 1 osprey
  • 1 mottled duck
  • 1 Virginia opossum

Opportunities to Help

Please visit the Conservancy’s Facebook page to view more photos of Hector and Conservancy volunteers re-nesting the great horned owl. Learn about all of the amazing volunteer opportunities at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida at our website at www.conservancy.org. Your volunteer time, as well as memberships and donations, are vital in helping us continue our work to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.

Joanna Fitzgerald is director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Call 239–262–2273 or see conservancy.org.