Great Horned Owl rescue

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15 years 4 months ago #132892 by moss
Great Horned Owl rescue was created by moss
I rescued a sick Great Horned Owl out of the top of a Black Oak today. Everything went smoothly. I placed a line at about 70 ft. with my Sidewinder, climbed up, did a minor re-pitch upward and then used a 10 ft. or so bamboo pole with net attached to pluck the owl off some skinny upper branches. Great Horned Owl have large and very sharp talons, some caution was required in handling. After placing it in a sack I took it down to the ground and drove it about 45 miles to a wildlife veterinary clinic. I'll check tomorrow to hear how it's doing. Fingers crossed that it will make it. More photos later.

Took this shot when I reached the owl


-moss

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15 years 4 months ago #132893 by Davej
Replied by Davej on topic Re:Great Horned Owl rescue
And just how do you know when an owl is sick enough to allow someone to get a net over its head?

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15 years 4 months ago #132895 by moss
Replied by moss on topic Re:Great Horned Owl rescue
Davej wrote:

And just how do you know when an owl is sick enough to allow someone to get a net over its head?


A healthy Great Horned Owl will not allow a person to place a net over it, never mind get into the same tree with it.

I've been birding for 20 years and observing wildlife since I was a kid. The owl was reported to me as sick and I was requested to to rescue it. I assessed the owl from the ground and confirmed through some key observations that it was indeed very sick. After capturing the bird I was able to confirm that it was very weak, probably within 12-24 hours of dying without medical care. I took it to the best wildlife veterinary clinic in New England, I hope they will be able to save it. This is the second owl that I've rescued. The first one was close to death when captured and took 3 months to completely recover, It was released back to the wild.
-moss

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15 years 4 months ago #132896 by Davej
Replied by Davej on topic Re:Great Horned Owl rescue

moss wrote:
A healthy Great Horned Owl will not allow a person to place a net over it, never mind get into the same tree with it.


Well was this bird hanging upside down or something? How did you guess it wouldn't just move to the next tree?

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15 years 4 months ago #132897 by Culinarytracker
Replied by Culinarytracker on topic Re:Great Horned Owl rescue
Davej Wrote:

Well was this bird hanging upside down or something? How did you guess it wouldn't just move to the next tree?


Owls are one of the most aware animals in all of North America, They don't like being noticed (and they know when they are noticed) so for them to not react by flying a short distance to another tree (usually just out of sight or on the far side) would be a big clue in and of itself. Also I'm willing to bet that whoever reported this bird as sick saw it moving and it was a rather obvious struggle

Am I right Moss???

Moss Wrote:

Great Horned Owl have large and very sharp talons, some caution was required in handling.


That sounds like the understatement of the year. I guess this one might not have been so feisty being sick and all. A farmer in my neck of the woods had one in a large trap when I was a kid that was getting his chickens. That thing was huge, and would snap his beak making a LOUD noise. I watched that owl break a solid branch, probably a full inch in diameter with it's beak. I wouldn't have wanted my hand in there without chain mail leather gloves :) (ok, probably not even then)

Carl

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15 years 4 months ago #132898 by moss
Replied by moss on topic Re:Great Horned Owl rescue
The owl was first observed by a birder in the early morning. From the time she first spotted to when I popped it in the net at around 2:30 pm it hadn't moved from it's perch. The birder reported it as injured. The key indicator for her was that it was mobbed repeatedly by crows and did not respond. Great Horned Owl is a mortal enemy of crows, it's a regular predator that crows fear more than any other besides humans. If a GHO is roosting in the open a group of crows will harass it and the owl will usually move into a dense conifer for protection. When I assessed the owl in the morning I watched the crows get bored to the point of thinking that perhaps that the owl was an inanimate object. They tried everything to get it to react, got within inches of the owl, used every threatening gesture in the book and incessant loud cawing. Normally a crow within talon's reach of a GHO is a dead crow. This owl wouldn't even turn its head to look at them. All this was more than enough evidence that something was very wrong with the owl.

When I reached my closest location in the tree to the owl I could see some \"whitewash\" on the branch closer to me. I think the owl had been there all night and had only managed to work its way out further out on the branch. The other thing that was obvious was that the owl was barely balancing itself upright. My weight on the tree was making the owl bounce a little and it was having difficulty countering that motion.

I was able to get it into the net by using the net to push it off the branch, it then flipped upside down with talons still grabbing the branch. With a little side pressure I encouraged it to let go and it dropped into the net.

It still had enough kick to attempt to claw me several times in the tree and on the ground, and later when I handed over to the wildlife clinic. I think that defensive instinct is the last to go in a sick owl. The talons are not to be trifled with, when I handled it it was still impressively strong.
-moss

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15 years 4 months ago #132901 by Davej
Replied by Davej on topic Re:Great Horned Owl rescue

moss wrote:
I was able to get it into the net by using the net to push it off the branch, it then flipped upside down with talons still grabbing the branch. With a little side pressure I encouraged it to let go and it dropped into the net.


Amazing. I recently visited a local bird sanctuary.

http://www.worldbirdsanctuary.org/

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15 years 4 months ago #132902 by chagahunter
Replied by chagahunter on topic Re:Great Horned Owl rescue
I had a less than dramatic encounter with a Saw-whet owl last July while climbing in Northern Minnesota. I had not noticed the small woodpecker hole about thirty feet above the ground. However, when I reached that height, the owl in the attached photo peaked out, let me snap her photo and then watched as I climbed right past.

We hear and see owls several times a year here in N. Minnesota.

For Xmas my wife gave me a two CD set entitled Voices of North American Owls from Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. It seems that arboriculture and birding go hand in hand.

Thanks for sharing the rescue story and photo!

Marty

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15 years 4 months ago #132903 by chagahunter
Replied by chagahunter on topic Re:Great Horned Owl rescue
Photo was too big.

Attachments:

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15 years 4 months ago #132904 by moss
Replied by moss on topic Re:Great Horned Owl rescue
Nice Saw-whet photo.
-moss

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15 years 4 months ago #132905 by moss
Replied by moss on topic Re:Great Horned Owl rescue
I received the bad news today that the Great Horned Owl had died. Apparently it was dead before they did the initial examination at the clinic last night. Which makes me wonder if there was a delay from when I handed it over to them alive. They'll let me know what the autopsy results are.



Here are photos of the rescue process

-moss

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15 years 4 months ago #132909 by oldtimer
Replied by oldtimer on topic Re:Great Horned Owl rescue
Sorry to heard that the Owl die. Well you tried at least. It may have been too sick to survive that he/she allowed you to get so close to it durin the rescue without trying to at least fly or move away.

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15 years 4 months ago - 15 years 4 months ago #132910 by Baker
Replied by Baker on topic Re:Great Horned Owl rescue
Moss,

Don't feel bad. As a wildlife rehabilitator, I can tell you that if the owl died that quickly, there was probably nothing any vet could have done to change the outcome.
You are a noble man for the attempt. You are to be commended.

Here are some GHO (Bubo virginianus) facts you may find interesting:

Great Horned Owls...

Are the second largest owl in North America.

Are very good tree climbers themselves. They often use their beaks to hold on to branches, like a parrot would.

Can exceed 500 psi pressure at the tip of each toe

Are virtually silent in flight

Have relatively weak beaks.

Using low frequency sounds, can audibly communicate at a distance of over 4 miles

Can NOT turn their heads 360 degrees (240 is more accurate)

Have 15 cervical vertebrae (all mammals have only 7)

Do a great deal of their hunting by sound rather than sight, often catching food hidden beneath leaf liter or in up to 12 inches of snow.

Have eyes equal in size to a human's.

Have 3 eyelids, one of which is transparent. Harry Potter's glasses were designed after the GHO's nictitating membrane. they too are clear with a black rim

Can not move their eyes in their sockets

Can focus each eye independently, allowing them to see near and far at the same time.

Have no sense of smell. Because of this, GHOs regularly eat skunks.

Will take pray as large as a raccoon.

Have tufts of feathers on their heads that are neither ears nor horns, even thought these tufts are called ear tufts, and are the reason the bird is called the Great Horned Owl.


This guy was successfully rehabilitated and released only to be hit by a car, weeks later. He is the first image you see when visiting our website.

www.carboneec.org
Last edit: 15 years 4 months ago by Baker.

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15 years 4 months ago #132911 by moss
Replied by moss on topic Re:Great Horned Owl rescue
Thanks Baker.
-moss

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15 years 4 months ago #132912 by moss
Replied by moss on topic Re:Great Horned Owl rescue
oldtimer wrote:

...It may have been too sick to survive that he/she allowed you to get so close to it during the rescue without trying to at least fly or move away.


It is possible that is the case. I've previously rescued a Barred Owl that was equally ill and it survived after a 3 month rehabilitation and was successfully released back to the woods. If I had been able to capture the owl earlier in the day it would have survived long enough for the vets examination. The autopsy will hopefully tell what the underlying cause was and may answer some of these questions.

On a very basic level I believe the owl was severely dehydrated, that alone could have been enough to kill it. I need to get some skills together to address dehydration for this kind of situation.
-moss

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