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Holy Baby Bird Season

It’s March 31. I’m taking a car ride to Fallen Feathers from Wickenburg. They thought I was a Cooper Hawk baby, but I am a week old Great Horned Owl nestling and I am already an orphan. I have cuts on my head.   I was warmed up, my wounds were cleaned and then I was fed.

Gonzo, the Great Horned Owl

Gonzo, the great horned owlet

I don’t balance well yet. I miss my nest. It’s made to help hold me in. Mom and/or Dad couldn’t come help me after I landed on the ground since owl feet (talons) are made for crushing; killing our prey. My parents normally would keep me warm since i’m still all covered in fluff – a heating pad set on low now does that job. An incubator is ready if I need it.

As a baby, I sleep most of the day, but I do open my eyes a little. I have also quickly adapted to the silver tool that feeds me twice a day. Right now I just eat small mice, but as I get older I’ll need at least a rat a day to fill me up.

I’m learning things every day. I am honing my hearing skills. Owl ears are especially sensitive so that they can hear their prey’s every move. Have you ever seen an owl ear? Mine are easy to see right now since my feathers haven’t come in yet. Take a look.

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There are lots of other babies here already. Sparrows mostly right now. 71% of the total bird count Fallen Feathers receives in a year is during April, May, June and July.   I am told that there will be many other great horned owls here soon, but I am the first of this year. Fallen Feathers has gotten between 10-15 Great Horned Owls a year for the past 3 years. Friends will be nice to have.

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Update – April 25th

Volunteers were not kidding. The first week i was here, several owls have arrived. The “twins” – they are at least 2-3 weeks older than me. a Barn owl, Priscilla. She screams at everyone but is about my age. This week, we got in 2 adult barn owls, and a week old barn owl. There were also two other sibling great horned owls dropped off on separate days. The first one, Harry, seems fine. The other, Troy, has some tummy trouble and needs more care.

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We also have lots of baby ducks, hummingbirds and sparrows right now. We all grow at different rates and have different needs. It’s amazing to watch.

Gonzo, the Great Horned Owl

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Completely Unexpected

The past month has been event after event after event after event.  It’s good for Fallen Feathers – lots of opportunity to educate people.  As birds, we get our pictures taken and see all the ooohhhhs and aaahhhh and what is that?

Tres RIos Nature Festival is an event we have been going to for years.  If you have never been, It’s out by Phoenix International Raceway – south of I-10 on Avondale.  The festival has AZ Game and Fish and several of the local Audubon Societies and other vendors for people to find out more information.  There is fishing and bird walks to participate in.  This year it was lovely weather with just a little bit of breeze.  But first we have to get there…..

Our volunteers get up early to get us ready – jesses on and put in our carriers.  Any last minute items are packed and also any babies that need cared for on a hourly basis – this year we have eight hummingbirds, a sparrow and three pigeons.

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Once we arrive – the tables are prepared and we are put on our perches or held, depending on the bird and the volunteer.   Voldemort, the Turkey Vulture and Alice, the Coopers Hawk, were both very happy with our space.

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I cry out to the people walking by (literally – I haven’t learned to stop using my baby cry).  I was brought to the rescue as a juvenile Red Tailed Hawk with a broken wing.  The break was high up into my shoulder and had already started to set.  It couldn’t be fixed, so I am one of the lucky Education birds.

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As part of this event, volunteers also help children make birdy bagels.  While most of us birds of prey are not interesting in this seed stuff, we know the songbirds and pigeons/doves love it.

Don’t forget to see other great pictures from the event here at AZCentral.

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What made this event different was that people brought us several birds to rehab at the event.  Saturday we received a dove, two hummingbirds and a call to get a harris hawk.   The hawk had been in a person’s yard for two days.  When he was picked up by volunteers, the main injury was to the right eye.  Treatment began immediately and so far the hawk is doing well.

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Sunday, we were back out at Tres Rios.  This time we were brought a pigeon.  But when we got home, that’ when things really got strange.  A Pelican had been dropped off.  White pelicans are not all that unusual in Arizona, but Brown Pelicans are less common.  It had stepped on a cholla cactus.  It took about 45 minutes to get all the thorns out of the feet and mouth.

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This is not Fallen Feather’s first Pelican.  The timing of it’s arrival was interesting.  Jody and her volunteers will take care of the injured, the orphaned, the hungry and us, the residents.  Here’s to speedy recovery to my fellow feathered friends.  I cry for you.

Red, The Red Tailed Hawk

P.S. Nigel, the Pelican has asked for lots of fish.  It’s not the normal diet kept here, so if you know of any fishermen with some, it would be greatly appreciated.

Where am I?

I’m not really sure what happened, but I found myself in the dark in a cage at a strange place. 
After the sun came up, a family came by and I was scooped up and brought inside where I was looked at, felt, wings stretched out and then put in a warm aquarium.  This whole process was a bit scary but the people seemed very excited about my arrival and they were gentle with me.
 A little bit later I was fed and it was tasty.
It’s been a week and I’m still here at Fallen Feathers.  The Lady who answers the phone, Jody, lives here, it’s her home.  She takes care of us all.
I don’t see Mom or Dad anymore but I get the care I need.  I’m kept warm.  I get food.  I see other birds around me getting the same treatment only they don’t look like me.  They don’t eat the same things I eat.  I’m bigger than they are.  
I’m growing fast.  Most of my fluff is disappearing and my feathers are growing in. 
  The lady that brought me inside from the cage visited today.  She is a volunteer.  She told me when I get bigger and my feathers are all in that I’ll learn to fly that she hopes I’ll be “releasable”.  I don’t know what that means yet, but it sounds nice. 
Autumn, the barn owl
For more information about Fallen Feathers, visit our webpage at www.fallenfeathers.org