Guest Blogger: Mary Pringle, volunteer at the Center for Birds of Prey Medical Clinic
If you've read Mary Alice's novel Skyward, then you're familiar with what happens at our medical clinic and of all the interesting and beautiful birds of prey that we are privileged to treat and sometimes release. Mary Alice and I have released birds together, even Great Horned Owls as well as my personal favorite, the ospreys who are now beginning to nest in our neighborhood here on the Isle of Palms, SC.
This is the season for bird "orphans." Among the first to be seen are Great Horned Owls who nest during the last part of the winter. In early spring their young are starting to leave the nests and explore the tree branches around them. Very often they land on the ground but are not injured. What to do if you find one? If it is old enough to have its feathers, the best thing is to try to get the little owl back up into the tree where it belongs even if you can't get it into the nest. It's best to wear heavy work gloves because even at a young age their talons are very sharp. By taking it to a vet or bird rehabber, you may be ruining its chances of being raised by and trained to hunt by its own parents. Most often the parents will continue to feed and care for it in an alternate spot nearby. However, if it is injured, it should be taken to a medical facility for treatment. This applies to other kinds of birds as well. Sometimes they too can be put back into the nest or into the tree where the nest is. The myth about the parents abandoning it because someone has touched it is definitely not true.
Here in South Carolina we are fortunate to have The Center for Birds of Prey in Awendaw where injured raptors can be taken to the first-rate medical clinic for treatment and release. If you live elsewhere, you can usually call a veterinary facility to find out if there is such a facility nearby. The Center for Birds of Prey begins to see these very young birds in March.
Recently two Great Horned Owl chick siblings were admitted to our center from the Lexington, SC area. One has a broken leg which has been set and is healing and the other a fractured pelvis - which has already healed. Great care is taken to avoid having them imprint on humans during their care so that they can be released into the wild.
Happy spring to all.