This patient, protected under the Endangered Species Act, arrived in mid November from the Talent area. Patient 17-938 showed signs of head trauma and damage to its left eye. Animal Care was hopeful for a successful rehabilitation and release despite the eye injury. Owls rely on hearing over vision when hunting. In fact, an eye injury or even the loss of one eye does not necessarily mean the animal cannot be released. During its stay at Wildlife Images’ Clinic the patient went several days without eating on its own but eventually passed its hunting test a week before release.
For Wednesday’s release, biologists from ODFW and BLM were invited to watch as this owl took off and returned to the wild! The Oregon Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and Bureau of Land Management frequently help by transporting injured animals. These vital partners also help determine the best release locations for rehabilitated wildlife. Often, agencies like ODFW and BLM, have the most insight into what pockets of land are best suited for a release and which areas will allow the patient to thrive in the future.
Our intern Val finishes her internship this week, so we thought she should do the honors and release this amazing Northern Spotted Owl. Also present were animal care technicians Jen and Lauren, and BLM biologist Steve and his family. Steve banded the owl to help provide information about this species in the future, and also taught us how to tell whether this bird was male or female by looking at tail feathers; verdict is that this is a young male!
More about the northern spotted owl
The northern spotted owl is native to Oregon, California and Washington. It prefers a dense canopy in old growth forests. Known as a “perch-and-pounce” predator it hunts at night catching mainly small mammals. In the wild, northern spotted owls can live up to 20 years and typically mate for life. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service first listed the northern spotted owl as an endangered species in 1990. It currently holds the designation of threatened. The main threats to this animal are habitat loss and competition from the barred owl, a species that is native to the Eastern United States. Species information from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Previous release of two northern spotted owl chicks – Fall 2017