Spoiler alert: there is a picture of animal bones and a distant picture of a disembodied leg. These are owls we’re talking about.
We’ve had a couple of owls living on our little street (a cul de sac with just six houses). They’ve been hooting away during the day and night for several months. That’s not all they’ve been doing, either.
This morning Tom and our neighbors, David, Betsy, and Roger (Betsy and Roger are married) found a surprise in the middle of our cul-de-sac. I was sleeping at the time, as I’m not currently a responsible, contributing member of society. So, rather than re-hash all of this in my own words, particularly since I wasn’t there and don’t deserve to pretend to be, here’s the baby owl’s story as told through Facebook posts.
First, David posted a picture of the owl:
Tom posted a video of him:
And Betsy updated her status and explained what the owl-helpers told her:
And, of course I wanted to see owl pellets. So, I headed over to Betsy’s driveway, where she told her son he could “keep” them (the same place he found them). We all know owls are bad mother-shut-my-mouths, but as we looked at one pellet, then found another, and then another, we slowly realized we were standing below their nest, and let me tell you, I am glad I’m not a mouse. Or a bird. Or a chipmunk. Or a rabbit.
Seriously, y’all, they sit up in their nest of horror and drop animal body parts over the side.*
Betsy also told me that the raptor rescuer said that while the babe’s blood was from breakfast, he DID have fly eggs on him, which, if hatched could cause maggots, which would then have caused his death. So, he had several baths at the rescue place, and they will let him dry overnight and will bring him back tomorrow. Hopefully there won’t be any issue and he’ll be welcomed back with open wings and the slaughter can begin again (they eat up to 10 mice a day). So, yay for Betsy and the Chattahoochee Nature Center for preventing what sounds like a pretty horrible maggot-related death.
This is the picture Tom took of him when he first found him. Even as a relatively helpless birdie, he looks pretty intimidating – look at those talons!
*I’m kidding, owls! I love you. Please don’t hurt me.
Update: My title was a lie! This morning, the raptor lady came in to check on baby owl (I keep wanting to nickname him “bowel” but that’s not right), and he had blood on him again. After another thorough pat down, she discovered three puncture wounds on his inner thigh. So, he’ll stay with them while he’s on some antibiotics and will be returned after the wound is in the clear.
She thinks the cause of the injury was that his parents stepped on him. I would go over and lecture up at the nest about them needing to be more careful with their babies, but I’m afraid they’ll toss a squirrel head over the side at me and I know I wouldn’t recover from a trauma like that.
The theory is that the wound made him tip forward when he ate, so he would fall in his bloody food, which explains why he looked like Stephen King’s Carrie at the prom. That would also explain why he’s all hunched over in the scary pictures of him.
Update 7/24/12 – I’ve noticed this post has gotten some traffic lately. I feel like I should complete the story even though it’s a sad one. The baby owl passed away a few days after I posted this. I was so bummed about it I didn’t have the heart to write about it.
He died from rat poisoning. A rat must have ingested rat poisoning, and then the baby owl and the rest of his family probably caught and ate that rat. Most likely they all died as all owl sounds in the neighborhood ceased shortly after we found the baby.
Rat poison is serious, serious business. It doesn’t just kill rats – putting it out is a risk for many animals, including pets. The irony is that the rat poison killed one of nature’s best pest controls. Such a shame.