Injured Great Horned Owl Brings Herself To Rescuers

The following story was shared from Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Ontario, Canada.

owl with wings spread on branchA female great horned owl was admitted on August 17, 2018. It was found on our property by staff. She was weak, dehydrated, emaciated, and had severe trauma to the first two toes on her left foot. It looked as if her prey may have bitten her. The toe was badly infected. She also had a heavy load of flat flies (flies that feed off birds and live under their feathers) and internal parasites. Her initial body weight was 3.31 pounds (1.5 kilograms) with a body condition score (a tool used to assess the patient’s general health status) of 75%.

We started her on antibiotics, antifungal treatment (to prevent Aspergillus infection, a non-contagious fungal disease), and pain medications. We also treated the parasites. Although her weight was not too low, we always gavage-feed our raptors with the fluid-replacement product Plasmalyte (if severely emaciated). Then wean them onto Emeraid Intensive Care Carnivore. We tube-feed approximately 5% of their body weight four times per day.

owlWe started her directly on the full-strength Emeraid Intensive Care Carnivore because she wasn’t overly emaciated. We continued to gavage-feed Emeraid Intensive Care Carnivore for two days, then we started to wean small amounts of mouse meat (with fur removed and chopped into small bits). We continue to use the Emeraid Intensive Care Carnivore while we wean our birds of prey onto solid meat. This owl still received Emeraid Intensive Care Carnivore twice a day for four more days until she was ready for whole prey.

The wound has had a couple of setbacks, and we have altered antibiotics a couple of times. She has had surgery to remove dead or contaminated tissue in the area, and we also placed a drain in her most affected toe. That toe drained for two weeks after surgery. When the draining seemed to have abated, we removed the drain and the wounds started to heal rapidly.

She is now in a large flight aviary, her wound has a tiny scab, her weight is 3.97 pounds (1.8 kilograms) and we are starting live prey testing. If she passes the testing, she will be released here. We don’t typically name our patients, but we are calling this one Sandy Pines, which seemed fitting because she was found on the property of Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre!