Great horned owlet rescued in Virginia

Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 7:16 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WVVA/Gray news) -The Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center of Roanoke recently got a new patient: a baby owl chick!

The Roanoke County Police brought the owl chick, or owlet, to the Wildlife Center after it was found on a porch.

“We’ve had some storms and some heavy winds recently here in southwest Virginia, so likely what happened in those heavy winds that dislodged the bird from the nest. He fell out of the nest and was on someone’s porch for two days,” says Haley Olsen-Hodges, the director of operation at the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center.

The wildlife center said it believes it had been some time since the owlet had been fed, meaning mom and dad are not around to take care of it. Luckily, the center was able to take it in. But the owlet won’t get the chance to thank its rescuers.

A great horned owlet is being cared for after it apparently fell out of its nest.
A great horned owlet is being cared for after it apparently fell out of its nest. (Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center of Roanoke)

“Birds of prey can imprint just like ducklings do on humans, and the more contact we have with that wild animal, the more there’s a possibility that it could become, you know, habituated or even imprinted ... on a human. And obviously, we don’t want that. We want to do what we can to return this animal to the wild,” says Olsen-Hodges.

The owlet is still too young to feed himself, so the center uses long forceps as a “beak” to get bits of meat into the baby’s mouth.

They also have another method of interacting with the owl, and it’s a bit unusual.

“... We also wear a mask that makes us look like a great horned owl that has little eyeholes so we can see ...” said Olsen-Hodges.

In addition to the masks, the center lets the owlet see other owls in their care to become more familiar with its own species.

The owlet will be in the care of the center until it’s ready to be on its own, which Olsen-Hodges said won’t be until early fall.

For more information what the center does to help wildlife in Virginia and how you can donate, check out the website.