The VINS Wildlife Services department received its first barred owl patient of the winter. The owl, found laying in a person's yard in Norwich, VT, was brought in Wednesday for treatment.
See a video of the owl. In the photo, VINS intern Hannah Goldman holds the owl as we prepare to give him treatment.
Normally by December, VINS is flooded with injured, often starving barred owls. Heavy snow accumulations -- common in Vermont -- make hunting tough for owls, who must punch through the snow to get to rodents below its surface. But this year, the state has seen so little snow that barreds (and other local owls) are having an easy winter. Other birds that also stick around for New England winters -- like goldfinches, chickadees, and blue jays -- are also having an easy go of it, with plenty of seeds and even fruits still easily accessible on various plants and trees.
Our owl is currently unable to use his legs and has loose feces, sure signs of spinal trauma. We believe the owl probably struck a home or bounced off a car, losing use of his legs and landing in a front yard. We're currently providing him with medication and fluids to help him get better. The next few days for this owl will be critical; if he doesn't regain use of his legs within the next 48 hours, it is unlikely he'll ever use them again. Time will tell.