Monday, April 28, 2014

Barred Owls and Chimneys

One barred owl patient.

In Minnesota, barred owls nest a little later in the year than great horned owls.  They typically are cavity nesters that start searching for a good location to lay eggs in early to mid-March.  Most often, they choose a natural nest site such as a tree snag or hollow created by broken tree branches.  However, when out scouting for a suitable cavity, some investigate uncapped chimneys only to find that these “cavities” are  deeper than they appear and once the owls get in, they cannot fly vertically to get out.

Recently, a member of the public called TRC to report that a barred owl was indeed stuck in one of the chimneys of their house.  A TRC volunteer, who is also an arborist by trade, lowered a basket down the chimney.  After multiple attempts and significant prodding, the owl grabbed on to the basket (more than likely in defense) and the basket was quickly raised.  The owl was then transported to The Raptor Center’s clinic and treated for corneal abrasions.

Second barred owl patient.
A few days later, TRC received another call from the same homeowner saying that they thought another owl was in their second chimney!  Sure enough, the first owl’s mate investigated the second chimney and got stuck.  Two TRC volunteers responded to the call, this time rescuing the bird from inside the fireplace.  It also had abrasions on its corneas and a few broken flight feathers as well. 
After 10 days of treatment, both birds were returned to their home territory and flew off together, reunited once again.  

Many species of wildlife nest in natural cavities.  With the increase in human development occurring in their home territories, many species look for alternative cavities   Please make sure that your chimneys have proper caps; this will prevent situations like these barred owls faced from happening in the future.   This one act can have a great impact on the wildlife sharing your outdoor living space.
When  a patient might have sustained trauma to its eyes,
including exposure to soot or other debris, special staining
drops are applied that will reveal corneal scratches or ulcers.

1 comment:

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