Great gray owlet parented by a visual surrogate

Recently, the museum was contacted by California Raptor Center at UC Davis. They needed help with a great gray owlet that had been found by biologists on the forest floor beneath its nest in the western Sierra.

Biologists examined the tree and determined the nest was not accessible to return the owlet. The next best option would be to use an adult great gray owl as a visual surrogate for the owlet until it is a “brancher” and can walk around and perch on its own. This would minimize the risk of imprinting on humans and increase the chance of a successful return to the nesting area.

Lindsay Wildlife Museum’s resident great gray owl was used as a visual surrogate for this owlet. She was housed with the owlet in an outside aviary in the hospital’s holding area where the owlet was able to be in visual contact with the adult great grey owl.

After being at Lindsay Wildlife Museum for week, the biologists monitoring the owlet’s nest picked the owlet up in order to return it to its parents. Its siblings had started to emerge from the nest and had been seen on lower branches on the nest tree. They plan on reuniting the owlet with its siblings tonight.

Great gray owls are an endangered species in California. It is a privilege for the museum to be able to assist with this important project and hope that our work will help the survival of the species in the wild in California.

To see a video of this great gray owl go here

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