“Eagles fly over. We’ve seen lots of fox. There are an opossum and a raccoon in the area,” said Dwyer.
But this year, when they started spring yard cleaning, they found something unexpected. It was the night after a storm, so there were some extra sticks in the yard, and also evidence of animals.
“We had dead birds, a bunny ear. Lots of stuff we did not like in our yard.”
Right next to these animal parts was a broken nest and a small great horned owl.
“Right away I googled,” said Dwyer, “and I realized she was about two or three week old. She was still white and fluffy so I emailed The Raptor Center, and they got back to me within two minutes.”
This is one of about 200 baby raptors that The Raptor Center will consult on or care for this year.
“It is baby season right now, and the first babies that come in are the great horned owls because they lay their eggs first, and they hatch first,” said Victoria Hall, executive director of The Raptor Center.
In this case, the nest that fell had belonged to a mother and two young owlets. One of the owlets was big enough to move around on its own, but the one of the ground was not. This one was taken to The Raptor Center for an exam before it was returned, along with a brand new nest.
“We will build artificial nests for them, because as long as they are nearby their parents will come take care of them,” said Hall.
After a few days, Dwyer says it was clear that the mother owl had found her baby again, even though it was a new nest in a different tree. She turned the owl rescue into a way for the whole family to learn about raptors and appreciate these owls.
“We got to basically touch the owl. We were right there with the volunteers when they brought her back. It was really cool seeing this owl so close,” said Dwyer.
“We’ve got the public caring, and that is the most exciting stuff for us at The Raptor Center,” said Hall. “Now that family knows the part that they played in that owl. When they hear the parents hooting at night, they can know that they played a role in making sure to protect the raptors.”
The Raptor Center says you can always give them a call if you find a raptor that looks like it needs help. There is a team of staff and volunteers that will talk to you about what you found, and this team will come out and help if necessary.