Posts Tagged ‘Busch Wildlife sanctuary’

Screech Owl Tragedy

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

You may recall my occasional posts regarding a Screech Owl(s) that have called the Flicker nestbox next to my driveway home for several years now. Faithfully, every Spring, a pair of Screech Owls lays claim to the box and whether or not young have been raised there, I never really knew. I have found broken owl egg shells near the box and often see the owls exiting at dusk and just peeking out in the day. But recently the owls fate has become tragically known.

One morning this week, I was outside my garage and something on the ground on the concrete caught my eye. The adult Screech Owl was on the ground, not 10 feet away from me, looking at me with heavy eyes. The sunlight was obviously uncomfortable but the injury I saw made the glare of the sun on this nighttime raptor, insignificant.

Its right wing hung by a small thread of flesh, dried blood caked on itshurt owlfeathers and wing bones protruding grotesquely. I knew (s)he was in trouble and was beyond any hope of ever flying again. At best she would retain her life, but her gift of flight was gone forever. Glancing at the nest box I wondered about its contents.

My spouse got the ladder and climbed up and heard soft calls from inside and within the box were 2 of the cutest white powder puffs of baby owl, I have ever seen. There eyes squeezed shut, it was hard to make out heads or tails of the little fluffy balls.

We removed the babies for about 5 minutes while we made some repairs to the front of the nest box which will not make it through another year and while waiting for a call back from Busch Wildlife Sanctuary to determine what should be done. I looked them over and they seemed to have empty crops but otherwise unharmed.

The folks at Busch Wildlife told us to observe the nest box as the surviving owl would return during the day (which I thought was odd) and resume care of the nestlings. My fear being that the adult that was injured was close to the nestbox and was obviously caused by some predator. Either the hawk saw the male owl roosting in the tree by day and mangled it or a Horned Owl (common in my area) or Raccoon found the nest box during the night and attempted to pull out the female. In the ensuing struggle the little screech must have been able to tumble free and land in a large section of thick dense shrubs that surround that side of our house. I can imagine her laying in the bushes and making her way out to the concrete in the hours that followed.

A careful search of the trees close to the nest box uncovered no other owl roosting and as dusk approached, no other owls came to feed or care for the youngsters. Like the purple martins, after being attacked by such fearsome predators such as Raccoons or Horned Owls , the mate (if it survived) probably fled for its life and would unlikely return.

I watched from a vantage point that I would often sit to observe these little Screech Owls and no mate ever returned. My hopes for these 2 little owls fledging from our nest box diminished and I decided that a Wildlife Rehabilitator would be their fate.

4 days later, at Wildlife Resource Center of the Palm Beaches, I am told that the babies are doing well and eating up a storm. As for the adult Screech Owl, Busch Wildlife Sanctuary has YET to return my multiple calls.

Many thanks to Ellen from Wildlife Resource Center of the Palm Beaches. I think I have found a new Wildlife Rehabber!

One Martin at Rehab Passes On

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Sad news to report as one of the two purple martins from the late nest that was abandoned has died. For those of you that did not read in past posts, there was a very late nest of 5 nestlings were pretty malnourished having become victims of  Diminished Parental Care.  You can read the blog entry HERE.

But in short, 3 of the 5 were taken to the rehabbers for emergency hydration. I left the two stronger, larger nestlings in the nest so that the parents would stay bonded to the site. I would lower the housing and offer food and fluids to the weaker and thinner of the 5 at several points during the days. When the first 4 fledged and only the smallest runt remained, still not being fed by the parents, I made the decision to take him to the rehabber. That same morning I was packing up to drive to Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, I found another of the smaller and weaker which had technically fledged, on the ground next to my pool, too weak to fly.

As of today, from what I am told, the stronger of the two which survived is in an outdoor songbird flight enclosure. This fledgling was eager to eat in the time that I cared for them, unlike the nestling that ultimately died. I am not sure yet, if this purple martin is feeding off a platform or still needs to be fed. I hope to visit Busch Wildlife Sanctuary this weekend to see how he (she?) is doing.

Martin Fledgling Found on Ground-Back to Busch

Friday, July 17th, 2009

I was out several times in the morning giving Pedialyte to the nestling that I took out yesterday. He is visibly afraid at what I am doing but doesn’t give up a fight. His beak has more strength today and required some patience and gentle effort to open for some crickets today. As I was feeding him around 11AM or so, I saw the few Swallow-Tailed Kites flying overhead and low. I kept hearing a purple martin like chirp and found myself looking around. Hmmmm, I didn’t know Kites sound like martins? I kept hearing the chirp. No martins were around, they had visited this morning and were not around now. Then low and close I saw another one of the fledglings an the pool deck on the inside portion of the baby gate surrounding our pool. I went and picked him up and he chirped to me as if I was familiar.

Placing him in the bucket, with what I am sure is his sibling, I placed a drop of Pedialyte on my finger and as I approached him with my finger he practically bit my finger off. Not in fear or hostility but out of hunger. I picked up a cricket and approached his beak with it and between chirps he gobbled it down, looking for more. A friendly sort this little fledgling must have sat up in the trees all night. Finally when the other martins returned he tried to fly with them, only to be without strength to join them. He must have quickly lost altitude and thankfully landed where God would let me see him. Instantly, this little bird has especially touched my heart.

I placed a call to Busch Wildlife Sanctuary and drove them up to Jupiter. Beyond my help these 2 little birds need aggressive intervention. Even with that they seem so weak and malnourished that they may never be able to catch up to the HY’s flying about like experts now.

Calling for an update from David Hitzig (the Director at Busch Wildlife Sanctuary) I can report that both are being hydrated,  the outgoing fledgling is eating enthusiastically but the more timid nestling is not fairing as well. I am hoping that by watching his sibling accepting food, that he will follow suit, but as David related, it may be that he is beginning to shut down and death is imminent for him.

I will keep you updated.