by Elsa Watson, West Sound Wildlife Shelter Development Coordinator, July 24, 2012, 5 a.m.
It’s never good when an owl is lying by the side of the road, especially when the owl is young.
This little Northern Saw-whet owl was found in Hansville on July 15 by caring people who brought it to the West Sound Wildlife Shelter. A new hatchling, the owl was likely learning to fly when it was hit by a car. The initial exam showed signs of head trauma—the lid of one of its eyes was slow to blink, and the eye was slow to react to light.
Our rehabilitation team gave the owlet fluids, medication to relieve swelling, and a quiet place to rest and recover. Our goal is to help it recover as quickly as possible so it can be returned to the area it came from and rejoin its parents.
Fortunately, everything’s looking great for the owlet. It seems fully recovered and now just needs to pass a few key tests before it’s ready for release. In cases like this, raptors need to pass a flight test, demonstrating that they can take off and gain elevation, but also a prey test, showing that they can catch their own food, which in this case would involve capturing prey in an enclosed setting. Once this owlet passes its exams, it will be ready for release. No doubt, its parents will be delighted to see it!
Northern Saw-whet owls are native to western Washington. They’re purely nocturnal and small in stature at about eight inches tall. They primarily eat small rodents like mice and voles and small birds. When prey is plentiful, they’ll stash extra food in tree cavities for later. They like to nest in natural tree cavities or in cavities made by woodpeckers, though they’re also happy to use nest boxes.
Without intervention, this young owl would have perished. Many thanks to the people who took time out of their busy lives to help this little bird. Because of them, the owlet will have a second chance at life.
Interested in volunteering at or making a donation to West Sound Wildlife Shelter? Or have an injured wild animal? Contact them at 206-855-9057.
Learn about Elsa Watson’s new book Dog Days.
Photos courtesy of Dottie Tison.