Owl likely hit by car, admitted to von Arx Wildlife Hospital

By Joanna Fitzgerald | Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital

A great horned was among the 68 animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week.

A great horned owl receives an ophthalmic exam upon admission to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital.

A county employee at North Collier Regional Park rescued the owl; it was mid-morning when the owl was found on the side of the road unable to fly. While the owl was alert and responsive when admitted, there were several injuries indicating a vehicle had most likely struck the owl.

The owl had blood on its upper and lower beak and the left lower side of the beak had a hairline fracture with a split in the keratin. There was significant trauma to the right eye and digits on both feet were abraded and swollen.

The owl received pain medication and was placed on supplemental oxygen in an animal intensive care unit to rest. Once the pain medication had time to take effect, hospital staff cleaned the owl’s beak and the wounds on its feet. A second pain medication was administered prior to the owl being returned to the intensive care unit. When the second round of pain medications was given later that evening, staff also offered the owl food, hopeful the owl would eat overnight.

The following morning, the owl was more alert and was moved from ICU to a larger recovery space in the bird room. Handling was kept to a minimum to reduce stress on the owl. A check on the owl later that afternoon showed the owl had eaten part of the diet staff had provided earlier that morning. Diagnostic tests showed the owl had internal parasites that required treatment. After five days in the bird room, the owl was active and exhibiting normal defensive behavior and was cleared to move to an outdoor recovery enclosure.

Hit by car is a common cause of injury for many of the animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital. Wildlife habitats are often fragmented forcing animals to cross roads in search of food, water, and appropriate nesting sites. People can reduce the chance of hitting animals by being more attentive when driving. Driving at a slower speed, especially at dawn and dusk when many species of wildlife are active, may provide the time needed to avoid hitting an animal.

Never litter, even if the item is biodegradable (apple core, half-eaten sandwich). Food items tossed on the side of the road can attract animals such as rats and mice that are prey for hawks, owls, bobcats, etc. Drawing prey near roads brings predators closer to roads as well which increases the likelihood prey could be struck by vehicles. Always dispose of trash in appropriate receptacles.

Recent Releases

A blue jay, four eastern cottontails, a gopher tortoise, eight northern mockingbirds, three mourning doves, two red-bellied woodpeckers, a Virginia opossum, five mottled ducks and a barred owl 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. Your volunteer time, donations, and memberships are vital in helping us continue our work to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife, and future.

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Weekly blog from Joanna Fitzgerald, director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital.

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Conservancy of SWFL

Conservancy of SWFL

Protecting Southwest Florida's unique natural environment and quality of life...now and forever.

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