Many of you have seen my Facebook post about the rescue of a baby great-horned owl, who fell from its nest. This football-sized darling was not afraid and chatted with me in little chirps as I promised it safety. Thankfully, with the help of my cabana boy and an expert neighbor, the baby was spared from certain death by a stray cat, coyote, hawk, or roadrunner. But the most intriguing part of my blog is what I learned.
My neighbor, Jim, is a long-time volunteer at Liberty Wildlife. When he arrived to save the owlet, he said, “Wow, Sue! You’ll never see a great-horned so up close and personal in your yard again.” True. When I see the adults, they’re either perched in a tree or on my rooftop. If I try to get a closer look, they fly off.
“Now, we don’t have to worry about him/her using his talons or pecking with his nib. He won’t try to fly.” Hmm, that’s curious. “He doesn’t know he’s an owl. He has to be taught. In an ideal scenario, he’d be returned to his nest up there, but his mom and dad would attack us.” Oh, great. However, the nest was over 20 feet above in a pine tree, and we’d need a cherry-picker to deliver the kid.
My cabana boy vaulted the six foot fence, picked up the owlet and placed it in the cardboard box. “Now what, Jim?”
“I’ll take him home and feed him, and drop him off at Liberty tomorrow morning.”
“Wait,” I interrupted. “The baby will be ok until then?”
“Yes. In fact, some folk become so attached to owlets they raise them to adulthood. By then, the owl is incapable of being returned to the wild. It doesn’t know how to hunt or survive. But this little guy will be acclimated with other babies and adults and eventually released. For forty years, Liberty Wildlife has been rescuing and rehabilitating a variety of Arizona fauna. Approximately, 75% of its budget depends on individual contributions. All of the veterinarians are volunteers, as well as hundreds of people like me.”
“Does Liberty rescue most everything?’
“Reptiles, amphibians, mammals, and lots of birds. We have volunteers across the state and a relay system of drivers to transport them to our Phoenix facility.”
I’ve live in Arizona for almost 40 years, and I didn’t know squat about the majestic, great-horned owl. “Hey, Jim, just one more question. Sometimes I hear the owls meow like a cat. Am I crazy?”
“No, just uneducated. Barn owls meow like cats.”
Touche. Thus, I just became of member and learned they also serve as a national, non-eagle feather repository for Native American tribes to provide, at no cost, feathers for their endeavors. How cool is that?