This summer, Calgary Wildlife had the remarkable opportunity to supply care for multiple great horned owls (bubo virginianus).
Each of these owlets were orphans who were admitted to our clinic over the span of two weeks, from the end of April through the first week of May.
Although they were found in different locations and are not siblings, these four have been raised together for the majority of their time with us.
They were estimated to be in the 2-3 week range upon arrival and were beginning to grow pin feathers.
These owls don’t acquire their distinctive ‘horns’ until after three weeks of age and it can take juveniles up to a few months to develop full adult plumage.
Raising any wild animal babies in-clinic, poses several challenges. Owls can imprint very easily on human caregivers, so precautions must be taken to prevent this. Imprinting on a human can be detrimental to a wild animal's survival as it can disrupt the natural developmental process.
Calgary Wildlife staff implemented the use of an owl puppet to deliver the tweezer feedings to the babies.
Great horned owls are carnivorous and the babies are raised on meat in the wild. The owl parents will catch small rodents such as mice, voles and rabbits, and tear off small strips of meat to nourish their young.
While in our care, the owlets are fed a diet which mimics their natural one as closely as possible.
In the three months they were with us, these great horned owls progressed through several stages of growth. From nest, all the way through different enclosure sizes. Finally learning to feed themselves, fly, and grew-in their adult feathers.
They were released in the month of August back to the areas they were found in.
If you observe an owl or other wild animal in distress please call our hotline at: