Pat Hatch's PhotoJournal

Our Rescued Owlet is Back!

It was 7 weeks exactly since the owlet fell out of its nest. The owlet was released last night near the nest tree and was reunited with its owl family.

For the past 7 weeks the rescued owlet has been at the Avian Reconditioning Center (ARC) up in Apopka, FL. I am going to call the rescued owlet, O-2, and its sibling that remained in the nest, O-1, for the sake of brevity. I've been in touch with Carol at ARC these past 7 weeks and she had suggested that perhaps we could assist them by driving up to pick up O-2 when she was ready to fledge. Carol told us yesterday that she thought O-2 was a female because of its size. O-2 has been cared for by Gulliver, the Great Horned surrogate mother. Here is a short video that shows Gulli's interaction with its young owlets:

O-2 is not in the video because it was filmed a couple of days ago and O-2 had already been moved to the "flight cage," which is much larger and allows the birds to actually fly.

So yesterday was the day to drive up to Apopka and pick up O-2. Carol met us as the facility and gave us a short tour. We got to see Gullie and her young, and in the flight cage we met the other surrogate mom, Trigger, and her foster owlets learning to fly.

Carol instructed us on the release. The most important aspect was that the release be at night, primarily so that the other birds would not harass the vulnerable newly-released owlet. O-2 was transported in a cardboard "cat carrier," which works well for the owls. So at around 9 p.m. we got the release crew out near the oak tree and coaxed O-2 out of her box. She was reluctant to fly, but after some more coaxing, we got her to takeoff and she flew for about 25 yards or so and landed on the ground under some bushes near the oak tree. At this point, we figured that this owlet had had a long day and was probably pretty stressed, so we left her to spend the night where she was. No doubt at some point during the night she may have heard mama because early this morning I found her up in a tree adjacent to the nest tree and mama was nearby. That was pretty cool to find them together!

Later on, around noon today, I ventured out to take some photos and found the other sibling, O-1, nearby as well. So looks like the whole family has gotten reacquainted. Here are a couple of photos from today:

This the rescued owl, O-2, perched on a lower branch.

And way up in the tree, O-1.

The mocking birds have been harassing the heck out of the owls the last few days, and that probably explains why they are so well hidden. Can you tell they are siblings? Be sure to click on the picture for full size.

Update: I was able to get this photo at 7:30 p.m. this evening of the two siblings together, just as I was losing all the light. Very cool.

O-1 and O-2 Reunited!

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