Saturday, May 5, 2012

And then there was an…Owl?

This happened last week to me!!!
Normally when I find animals they are kittens or puppies (or the adult versions) but Sunday night was a first for me. I was driving my boyfriend home from work when we noticed an animal on the side of the road. At first I thought it was a cat, but I talking about a cat, plus I wasn't really looking closely because I was driving. David told me it was an owl just sitting in the road!! After debating for about 30 seconds we found a place to turn around and went back to the owl. We parked several yards away so that it wouldn't be frightened by the car, but we had driven right past him and he didn't even move. David went around to block traffic as I slowly walked up behind him and placed my jacket around it. I picked him up and carried him to the parking lot where the light was bright, so that I could examine any wounds. He didn't appear to have much more than a few scrapes and likely a bad bump to the head. Probably hit by a car as he was flying. I picked him up again (I had set him down to look at him) and he became startled and tried to fly away. He flapped, got some air, but seemed disoriented and was unable to actually get any altitude. Damn! I was hoping he would just fly away. He kind of glided into some bushes two feet away and I was able to get him out of there and into a cardboard box David got from his job. Once we got him home I placed him into my "kitten box" (that would be my kitten raising box, orphans will live in a large crate when unsupervised or too young), covered the crate with a sheet, and got to researching on the internet.

I knew there was a local birds of prey center but it was sunday night!!! Animal control isn't even open, but supposedly are available for animal emergencies (not pet emergencies). Plus they only do dogs and cats I'm told. I called the Audubon Center here in Maitland and left a message--that wouldn't be open to the public until tuesday, all I could think was "What am I going to do with this owl for two days?!" Finally I found number for the Florida Wildlife Rehab Center in Gainesville that was open 24 hours a day. I left them a message hoping for a call back with some advice. As the recording promised they did get back to me within an hour and informed me that although the birds of prey center wasn't open to the public Monday, they would accept dropped off/rescued birds. FL wildlife got in contact with them and made sure they knew I was coming. I was instructed to leave the owl in a dark, quiet area and not to offer any food or water. Got it, easy!!
owl1
The next morning he was looking much better as he looked completely freaked out that night. I think he realized we weren't going to eat him and that maybe he was safe. Bright and early I showed up at the Audubon Center with my owl. They were so very helpful and friendly. They took him out as I filled out paperwork (as if he was my own owl!), weighed him, and did a quick look over. I explained to them I was a vet tech and examined his wings but didn't find any obvious fractures, but also I don't ever see owls so what do I know.  The Raptor Technician gave me a business card for the center and wrote the owl's ID number on it. She told me I could call to check on him later as she wasn't going to be able to do a full exam right away. I told her I wasn't concerned now that he was in the right hands and he appeared to be mostly uninjured besides a likely headache. His bruised noggin didn't stop him from trying to bite the technicians. Thank goodness he was too shaken up the night before to try to bite me.
I did call that afternoon to check on him. They found a few abrasions and some blood in his mouth and eye. Probably from head trauma. They expect a full recovery once healed. I told them if they needed help releasing him I would be more than happy to come along. I'm expecting a call sometime next week. It was really satisfying to be able to save him from certain death by car or predators and make sure he gets the proper care. Plus the FL rehab center thanked be profusely as did the Audubon staff, made me feel really good. I think if I can find some extra time I'd like to volunteer there now and then. 
Oh yeah! Turns out there are only like four species of owls in Florida so David and I were able to figure out what species it was before the Birds of Prey Center even told us he was a Barred Owl. 
Pretty cool I think! :)
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