VINS Wildlife Services welcomed its first baby bird of the season last week - a baby great horned owl. The owl, believed to be about 4 weeks old now, is a wobbly mass of downy fluff, topped off with a knobby black beak and bright eyes that expertly dart about and focus in on each morsel of food coming his way.
The owl came to VINS April 14, but his journey to rehabilitation started nearly a week prior in Rhode Island. The owl is believed to have fallen from its nest, but nobody is quite sure as he was brought to a vet clinic in Rhode Island on April 8 with no information! From there, the owl, who received a clean bill of health, was transferred to a wildlife clinic in the state. The owl quickly made news headlines when a local station ran a story on the raptor seeking more information as to where it came from and who had brought it to the clinic. No luck there! On April 10, the baby was transferred to Born to Be Wild Nature Center, a rehabilitation facility in Bradford, R.I. The rehabber felt the young owlet deserved to be at a facility with an adult great horned owl, so he could learn the ropes of being an owl. It's easy to imprint baby birds, and once they are imprinted they cannot be returned to the wild.
So, the rehabber contacted us, and since VINS has an adult female great horned owl who occasionally plays foster mom to orphaned baby owls, we decided to make the transfer after approval from U.S. Fish and Wildlife.
The baby owl is now safe and sound at VINS, where he’s hand-fed 4 times a day by rehab staff. The foster mom does not feed the baby herself, but rather serves as a role model to the young one. The baby is gaining weight and looking good. Once he has grown in his feathers and learned to fly, we'll release him back into the wild.