Wednesday, April 23, 2014

First Baby Raptor of the Season!

Great horned owlets are typically the first raptor babies seen in TRC’s clinic every spring.  Great horned owls do not build their own nests; instead, they use an old squirrel or hawk nest from the previous year, or nest in a tree cavity.  If they choose the former, they move right in without stabilizing the structure in any way.

Most often, these nests are fairly worn from winter abuse and easily fall apart with the help of spring storms and the weight and activity of growing youngsters.
Great horned owlet on the ground.

 Recently, Jim Johnston, one of TRC’s rescue/transport volunteers, responded to a call regarding a 1.5 week old owlet found at the base of its nest tree.  It was the only survivor from a 70’ fall, but appeared uninjured.  Jim built a new nest structure and placed it about 15’ up in the nest tree.  The female returned a short time later to “resume” brooding and caring for her little one as if nothing happened.  Thanks to the quick call from the public and one of our dedicated and skilled volunteers, we were able to keep this raptor family together.

New great horned owl nest.
Great horned owlet in its new nest.
The time for humans to help raptors in this upcoming baby season may come when young raptors run into trouble once they leave the confines of their nest and enter our living space.  Nests are blown down, fall apart, and sometimes nest trees are cut down.  Every case is different and the extent of help a youngster may need depends on many factors including the species and age.  If you find a young raptor that you think might need a little assistance, please call The Raptor Center (612-624-4745) or check our website for advice before taking an action.  The greatest chance young raptors have for survival in the wild is when they are raised naturally by their parents, not people. 

Thank you to Jim for sharing these photos with us.

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