Two screech owls admitted just hours apart
By Joanna Fitzgerald | Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital
Two eastern screech owls were among the 110 animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week.
The two fledgling eastern screech owls, one found in Naples, the second found in south Lee County, arrived within hours of each other. Both required human intervention after ending up in life-threatening situations.
A homeowner in Golden Gate was aware there was an owl nest in his backyard. Fortunately, the man happened to be watching the nest when one of the owlets landed in a canal after making its first flight from the nest. The man used a fishing net to retrieve the bird from the water and brought the owl to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital to ensure it was OK.
The owl’s feathers were damp and its mentation was dull but otherwise appeared in good condition. Auscultation revealed clear breath sounds indicating the owl had not aspirated canal water into its lungs. Staff placed the owlet in an animal intensive care unit on oxygen to dry off and warm up. After several hours, the fledgling owl was appropriately reactive enabling staff to move the young bird to a slightly larger recovery space within the hospital’s bird room. Staff offered the owlet a rodent diet that was eaten overnight.
The owl’s behavior was monitored for several days; no health issues or complications arose allowing staff to move the owl to an outdoor flight enclosure to gain flight skills and build muscle strength. The goal is to release the owl in the area where it was found once it is well flighted.
The second fledgling owl was rescued from Bonita Springs after it was found hanging from a tree entangled in Spanish moss. The owl’s rescuers removed the bird from the Spanish moss and placed it on the ground giving the owl a chance to gain its bearing and fly off. While on the ground, songbirds flew in and ‘mobbed’ the owl. At that point, the rescuers placed the owl in a box and brought it to the Wildlife Hospital.
Upon arrival, the owl was alert and responsive yet was resting on its hocks with its toes clenched. Staff provided pain medications and Chinese herbs and placed the fledgling owl in an animal intensive care unit to rest. The owl’s mentation improved significantly on day two and by day three the owl was eating on its own. The fledgling owl continues to recover in the bird room.
A Brazilian free-tailed bat, two Florida box turtles, a yellow-bellied turtle, two northern cardinals, seven eastern cottontails, an indigo bunting, a common yellowthroat, a common ground dove, a mourning dove, six northern mockingbirds, two brown thrashers, a common grackle, a peninsula cooter, two brown pelicans, an eastern screech owl and two burrowing owls were released this past week.
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