Western screech owl
All year, the small hospital staff at Lindsay Wildlife Museum’s wildlife hospital work with a veritable army of volunteers to raise baby animals for release and to nurse injured animals back to health. However, much gratitude also goes to a third group of helpers: all the people in the community who bring our patients to us!
A case in point: earlier this year, an Alamo family discovered a fierce-looking tiny owl on the ground. They realized the bird must be injured, since it did not try to fly at all, so they promptly brought the owl to the wildlife hospital. The staff recognized the diminutive bird as a western screech owl, and also saw it was in poor condition. Not only was it unable to fly, it appeared unable to hold its head upright. There was blood in its nostrils and mouth, severe bruising around the neck and an open wound above the left shoulder. Based on the pattern of injuries, it was likely that another animal had caught the owl and grabbed it by its head. Luckily for the owl, it escaped, and even luckier, it was found by a kind-hearted family. Hospital staff immediately began treatment for the bird, which weighed in at 182 grams (barely 6.5 ounces). It received antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medication and pain medication. Fluids were administered to prevent dehydration and the owl’s wounds were thoroughly cleaned. A close inspection revealed three small puncture wounds among the bruising, further supporting the theory that the bird was attacked by a larger animal. Over the next two weeks, the owl’s bruises healed under the watchful eyes of hospital staff and volunteers who continued administering medications as needed. To everyone’s relief, the bird was able to hold its head upright again. Discoloration from the bruising had disappeared and the bird was flying again. This meant the owl was ready to return home to Alamo.
Wildlife hospital staff contacted the homeowners who had found the owl. The family built a wooden nest box for their neighbor and hung it in their yard. Hospital staff brought the bird back to the scene of the original rescue, and the family plus their human neighbors all gathered to see the bird’s release. A hospital supervisor gently placed the bird into the nest box. After giving so much attention and care to an injured animal, it is always gratifying to be able to have a successful recovery and eventual release. In this case, it’s even more rewarding for hospital staff and volunteers to be able to work with the community and help introduce the Alamo family to one of their feathered neighbors.