Great Horned Owl – Rescuing an Owlet

In my previous post about the Great Horned Owl nest in our palm tree, I introduced the First Owlet.

Over the next few days we saw at least two more baby birds.

In the photo above there are two owlets to the right of the unhatched egg, and one just above the egg. I don’t think there are more than that, but time will tell!

In this photo, one owlet settles in to it’s temporary home in an Amazon Prime cardboard box lined with a fluffy white towel. The baby bird fell out of the nest. I found it sitting on the road near the bottom of the palm tree. It could not walk or hop very far without tipping over.

There was no way I could get the baby back into the nest and it was much too young to live without the warmth and care of the mother owl. I didn’t know how long the bird had been on the ground, but I knew there were many predators nearby. So I donned my trusty leather gardening gloves, quickly found the box, took a deep breathe – and gently guided the bird into a safer place.

I’m not sure whose heart was beating faster now – the bird’s or mine! For such a small bundle, it had a big beak and long sharp talons – and it was not happy with me at all! We both calmed down once the owlet was safely in the box and I had added a fluffy towel so the bird had something to hold onto. I closed the  flaps on the box (many thanks to the box maker because when the flaps are closed there is a large enough gap to allow good ventilation.)

The baby owlet being held by a person at the ‘Wild at Heart’ Raptor Center.

Several hours later The Car Guy and I delivered the bird to the Arizona Wild at Heart rescue center. An experienced staff member checked the baby for broken bones, gave it a rehydration needle, then explained their baby raptor program to us.

They will care for the owlet in their ‘wild fostering’ program. The baby will be raised by another Great Horned Owl – a foster parent – that will feed it, teach it to avoid humans and predators, how to communicate and hunt. The baby will not imprint on people and as long as it grows up to be a healthy bird, it will be released into the wild when it is mature enough.

I sure know a lot more about baby owls now (they really don’t smell that great when they have been in a box for a short while…) So, although it is exciting to have a nest of baby birds nearby, sometimes it comes with the obligation to make sure that ‘No bird is left behind’.


18 thoughts on “Great Horned Owl – Rescuing an Owlet

  1. Wow! That is quite the adventure you and Car Guy are having with the owlets. I am really happy to hear that the little guy has a chance of surviving. We had a very young baby moose get separated from its mother at our cabin. We guided the baby to a safe area and left him where his mother could find him. We figured she was nearby waiting for us to leave the area. When we checked a couple hours later he was gone.


    1. You had quite an adventure too! Wild babies are no better than human teenagers when it comes to ignoring the good advice of the parental units!


    1. Parental instinct kicks in, I think. Ensure the little one is safe, then take a bit of time to find the best place to get help!


  2. Great story (and you both are good people). I was sure you were going to say it suffered a broken limb in the fall. What did you mean by “The baby will not imprint on people…”?


    1. Good question. Here is one explanation from a Wildlife Center: “Imprinting allows baby birds to understand appropriate behaviors and vocalizations for their species, and also helps birds to visually identify with other members of their species so they may choose appropriate mates later in life.”
      If the baby bird is fed by humans and hears only human voices during their early development, then they will not be able to identify with other owls.They don’t gain the skills of how to be an owl which means they won’t be able to survive in the wild.


  3. Oh my goodness. I am so glad you saw the little nugget and saved him. You are such a good grandma to so many creatures.


  4. You are that little fluff’s guardian angel. I’m so thankful you were able to rescue it and get it to rescue center. Well done, you! ~standing ovation~


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