Baby owls doing OK
Article Date: 2009-05-05 Source: http://www.mercurynews.com
By Ramona Turner
Santa Cruz, California, U.S.A. - Five baby barn owls discovered Friday are doing just fine, a rescuer said Monday.
''Their parents came to feed them,'' said Rebecca Dmytryk Titus, founder and
project manager of WildRescue, one of the organizations that made the owls'
return home possible. ''We will be monitoring and checking on them to make sure
the parents continue to feed them.''
The five baby birds of prey were found Friday in downtown Santa Cruz inside a
nest their parents built inside a body shop's metal sign. The shop's owner found
the nest while he was tearing down the sign, which was damaged during a recent
storm. Concerned about the animals' well-being, the owner called the animal
While the baby owls were being cared for by humans, a nesting box was built and
secured to the post that once held up the body shop sign. Representatives from
WildRescue and Native Animal Rescue then carefully placed the owls in the
The location of the nest box is a secret, as Dmytryk Titus fears human
interference with the owl family.
Rescuers also placed an orphan from the Peninsula Humane Society in San Mateo
County "so that it, too, could be raised by wild parents," Dmytryk Titus said.
Reuniting and fostering healthy orphaned babies is becoming more common among
professional wildlife rehabilitation workers, she added.
"The best caregiver is the animal's wild parent, not a human," Dmytryk Titus
It is not rare for barn owls to be found in urban settings. They typically nest
in places such as tree hollows, caves, barns and signs. They grow to be about 40
centimeters and can weigh up to 15.5 ounces.
The nocturnal birds dine on rodents and are becoming increasingly popular guests
for people who are building and supporting owl habitats in the hopes that they
will naturally control the pests, Dmytryk Titus said. Barn owls are known to
consume twice as much in prey than other owls, as a maturing baby barn owl may
consume the equivalent of a dozen mice in one night, she said.
Brown and white in color, the barn owl does not hoot. Rather, it screeches and
hisses like a snake. And when cornered or captured, it defends itself by
throwing itself on its back and flailing with its sharp-taloned feet.
The baby owls in Santa Cruz are expected to feed and grow in the box nest for
the next few weeks, said Dmytryk Titus. Once the owl family moves out, the nest
box will be removed so the auto shop can replace its sign, she said.
If the shop owner would like, WildRescue will move the box elsewhere on the
property, as the owls could nest there up to three times in the year, she said.
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2009-06-18 - Baby owls take flight with parents downtown by Joel Hersch - Santa Cruz, California, U.S.A.
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