Baby barn owls getting stronger

W.E.R.C. hopes to return these baby barn owls to the wild.

Thirteen turned out to be a lucky number for the 13 orphaned
barn owls brought to W.E.R.C. early in April. Location, location,
location: Their parents built their nests at sites that turned out
not to be the best real estate for owls.
Thirteen turned out to be a lucky number for the 13 orphaned barn owls brought to W.E.R.C. early in April. Location, location, location: Their parents built their nests at sites that turned out not to be the best real estate for owls.

The first four were found in a food processing plant in Morgan Hill, unacceptable according to human sanitary standards.

Because it’s illegal to remove the nest of a native bird, the plant managers called the Fish and Wildlife Service for advice and were given permission to transfer the owlets to W.E.R.C., where they were hand-fed for a week before eating on their own.

The fifth owlet had fallen from a tree in Dublin; its egg tooth and umbilicus were still present. It was transferred to W.E.R.C. so that it would be able to imprint on the other barn owls already there, instead of its human caretakers.

And then baby season arrived in abundance: On April 12, a truck from Los Banos made a delivery of hay to Morgan Hill. As the workers began unloading, they discovered a nest of eight downy barn owls hissing at them and brought them to W.E.R.C..

Volunteers were kept busy hand-feeding all the babies, some of which were still nearly naked with eyes unopened.

Cleaning up all the baskets took also took some time, with down fluffing in the air as the babies molt into their feathers. Fortunately, they are all now able to eat on their own and will soon be moved into a large outdoor aviary to learn to fly. It will be several months before they grow full plumage, perfect their flight and prove themselves capable of hunting rodents.

Then they will return to the wild, hopefully building their nests in an appropriate location this time.

The Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center provides the community with rehabilitation services for orphaned, injured and sick native wildlife. Through their educational programs, W.E.R.C. encourages a peaceful coexistence between civilization and native wildlife. To contact W.E.R.C. call (408) 779-9372 or visit www.werc-ca.org.

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