Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A new member of the banding crew!

Part of my banding project involving Cooper's Hawks, is to capture the adults. To do this we need some help - we require a special member of the banding crew, who Cooper's Hawks despise! We need a Great Horned Owl.

A while ago, I inquired to the Vet college in Saskatoon, to see if they had a GHOW that was not releasable and that needed a home. They didn't have a candidate at the time, but last week I received a phone call that an owl that met the criteria was available if we were still interested.

After getting all the proper permits in line (you need special permits to have an owl!) we drove up to Saskatoon on Sunday to pick up the owl.

This is where we met this guy (seen below). He originally was found near Moosomin, SK, with a broken leg. After being brought to the vet college, he underwent surgery on his leg. The surgery was a success and his leg healed nicely, but the vets later realized that the owl had extensive scarring on his retina in his left eye. They estimate he has 60-70% vision loss in this eye. What this means is that the owl has no or very little depth perception. So when he tries to grab a mouse to eat, he usually doesn't catch it, because he grabs at the wrong spot. Left on his own in the wild, he would likely starve to death. He is a young bird, hatched in 2008, therefore he hasn't been independent for very long, and was already quite thin when he arrived at the clinic.
So now he lives at the Display Ponds in Wascana Centre, in a nice large pen. We weren't sure what to name the bird, he did come with a name but we wanted to give him a name of our own. Due to his surgery, the vets had to shave his broken leg bare, just leaving some feathers around the foot of the bird. We decided on the name "Boots", since it looks like he's wearing a feathered boot on his left leg. Eventually the feathers will grow back, once he molts again which might not be for a while, maybe not until October!

Hopefully, Boots and I will be able to visit some classrooms in the future, but for now we are just working on getting him use to being in captivity. We'll let you know how Boots does this coming summer!

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