Great-Horned Owlet Rescue

On March 20, 2005 some concerned residents of Peculiar, Missouri found this Great-Horned Owlet on the ground in their yard. Seeing a dead baby the day before, they searched for the nest and decided the parents had used a faulty squirrel's nest as one high up looked rather bedraggled.

Watching for two days, they did see an adult owl flying in the area but were never able to actually see the owlet being fed. Rain was moving in, so they rescued the baby and called Lakeside Nature Center.

Volunteers on phone duty suggested they bring the baby to the Center for assessment. Within the hour, the owlet arrived. After being examined by staff and volunteers, rehydrated and fed, the baby was set up in a carrier with a heat lamp overnight.

The following day, the owl not only was doing well, but it coughed up a "pellet" (the fur and bones of an undigested mouse). Obviously the baby had been fed by the parents as the Center had only fed it lean meat.

Excitedly, the staff and volunteer devised a great nest for the owlet... a plastic egg crate (the bottom having holes for good drainage) stuffed with dry leaves , wrapping the sides and one corner with plastic for wind/rain resistance (it was a very rainy/snowy day), and the volunteer headed south to Peculiar to hang the new nest.

The property owners were delighted to be a part of this adventure... and very willing to keep a watchful eye out for danger as well as the parents. Finding a sturdy tree near where the baby had originally been found, the "nest" was attached.

Then... the wait....night soon came as they nervously waited signs of the parent owls. By 5:00 a.m. they heard hooting! By noon the next day, an animal carcass had been deposited in the nest by the parents and they could be seen perching on the "nest".

Thanks to this wonderful teamwork: concerned citizens, Lakeside Nature Center staff, Friends of Lakeside volunteer, this story has a very happy ending. The property owners will monitor their progress and are privileged to do so. We are gathering very important information from this process.

If YOU find a baby owl on the ground, construct a sturdy "nest" out of a container with holes in the bottom to allow for drainage. Attach to a tree nearby, monitor if you can, but know -- if the owlet hasn't been kept from the parents too long, they will definitely find them again... and nature is back to its natural course.

We love happy endings!

(Photos by Jill Fleetwood)