Pat Hatch's PhotoJournal

Hans Update

I know there are some friends and relatives who have been asking about Hans so I will periodically update his status here.  I spoke to Dee at the Florida Wildlife Hospital this morning and she said Hans was checked out and seems to be completely fine.  No injuries and he is eating well.  He has another Great Horned hatchling companion that was brought in and is about his age.  She confirmed that they would probably be releasing Hans here at his birthplace.

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Here are a few photos of the owls from today…

Mom & Fritz






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A Tragedy in the Owl Family

Yes, but it has a semi-happy, semi-ending, so read on.  Yesterday morning I venture over to the owl's nest and was greeted by a disturbing scenario.  One of the hatchlings (Hans, I think) was lying down on a branch near the nest and seemingly was either sound asleep or ill.  I took a few pictures, mom was nearby on the edge of the nest (seemed to be upset but perhaps I was projecting this), and Fritz was happily standing by in the nest.  I had never seen a fledgling out on a branch in a prone position before, and sound asleep no less.  Here's what it looked like:

High Drama at the Owl Tree

Fritz's look of concern over his brother Hans...

I went around to take a picture at a different angle to see if Hans was alright:

Is Hans not well?

Hans never stirred from this position. This morning I ran into one of the neighbors who stopped to tell me that one of the owls was on the ground. I was on my bike, so I immediately went over to the owl's tree and looked around. It took me a while, but I finally spotted him under a bush at the base of the tree. As I approached him, he gave off a sharp staccato clacking noise that they make with their beaks. Mom was in the tree above observing me pretty intently.

I called the Florida Wildlife Hospital and spoke to the "owl lady" about the situation. She said the best thing would be to attempt to re-insert the owl into the nest or place it on a branch, if possible. I told her that it appeared to be stressed, perhaps even sick or injured. She said in that case I should try to capture it and bring it to her and she would nurse it back to health. She told me how to do this: I got a plastic storage box and a beach towel, some heavy gardening gloves and a golf umbrella. One of the neighbors gave me a hand holding the umbrella open to block the mother owl's line of sight or to fend her off in the event of an attack. It was really a non-event. I threw the beach towel on top of the hatchling, picked it up and placed it in the box, put a lid on it and into the back of the Acadia. Mom didn't seem to mind at all.

I was amazed at how big the hatchling was and how developed its wings were. I assume that if it fell from the tree, it must have been able to cushion it's fall by flapping its wings, because there was really no indication of an injury. It did let out a pretty good shriek when I put it in the box.

So I just got back from the Humane Society, a stopping off point before being shuttled to the animal hospital, and Hans is on his way to his new home. The owl lady (sorry, I haven't learned her name yet) told me that she had another one brought to her from another location about a week ago, so Hans will have a companion during his time in owl rehab. Another volunteer at the Humane Society told me that Hans would more than likely be released into the wild in the same location he was found. I assume there must be some kind of imprint or instinct about its territory so it's probably important to release it near its birthplace. So, I'll be monitoring Hans' progress and report back... perhaps I'll be able to get some photos of the release in a few weeks. So maybe there will be an imperfectly happy ending to this story after all. We'll see.

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Today’s Owl Photo

Hans is the smaller of the two siblings and not visible in this photo.  He apparently is napping.  Fritz is not only much larger, but more active than Hans.

Mom and Fritz

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Today’s Owl Update

Mom was a little sleepy this morning. She is, after all, nocturnal. The inchoate siblings are growing fast, aren't they? Compare the larger one (I'll call him Fritz) to just a week ago below.

The Katzenjammer Kids: Hans & Fritz

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