Conserve Wildlife Blog

Guest Post: Re-nesting Baby Screech Owls

May 11th, 2020

by: Sam Galick

World Series of Birding 2020- after seeing snowflakes in Woodbine, I decided to check for nightjars in Belleplain State Forest. I drove along all of the roads, poking my head out of the car… nothing. Not really unexpected with the 20-25 mph winds gusting to 30-35 mph and 36 degrees at 4:30 in the morning.

I was stopped in my tracks by a recently fallen tree that blocked the road. I took a photo with my phone and decided what I should do next. I looked up briefly from my car window and noticed what I thought was a mushroom that had fallen off the tree turned it’s head and looked at me. I knew I was tired, but I shouldn’t be hallucinating already.

I grabbed my camera from the passenger side and started taking photos. ‘Oh sweet! A screech owl- the guys will love this knowing the improbability of having an owl on an inclement night like this. Hm, looks like it has a flying squirrel in it’s talons!!’ Far from an unlucky flying squirrel, as I got closer I took a brief look at my photos and realized there were baby owl feet sticking out of the side of the fluff.

It all clicked then. The chick must have tumbled out of the tree trunk and the adult was attempting to brood the chick. What do I do? How will it be able to survive if I just leave it? Just the other day there was a beautiful coyote just around the corner from here. I walked over and the fluffy mass separated into three chicks as I picked them up and took them to my car. The adult had flown to a nearby tree.

As I sat down in my car, one promptly pooped on me. Great, okay let’s put you guys in the passenger seat. I drove home with baby screech owls in my seat making little noises, as I contemplated how I was going to explain this to Emily.

After waking her up with three baby owlets at 5am, Emily got in touch with her coworkers and consulted a vet. They suggested the best course of action would be to get them back up in a tree nearby with full bellies. We tore down the owl box in our backyard. We fed them raw chicken dipped in water. We got everything ready and went back to where the tree fell.

The daylight really showed how lucky these guys were- the tree fell just inches from the ground and broke in half like a wishbone splitting at the base and spilled the contents of the nest on the road.

With the helping hands of Matthew Tribulski and Larissa Smith, we were able to erect my old owl box on a tree less than 10 feet from where the nest was with a predator guard wrapped around the trunk.

Both Emily and I were very lucky to have experienced this. What a unique set of events that transpired allowing us to help these little guys out. I wish them all the best and hope mom is tending to them on this Mother’s Day night. She was devoted, huddling around her little ones in the coldest May morning as far as one could remember.

Thank you so much for all of the help Matthew Tribulski, Larissa Smith, Emily Heiser Galick and all the advise we received from professionals in the field of wildlife rehab.

All photos and video by Sam Galick.

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3 Responses to “Guest Post: Re-nesting Baby Screech Owls”

  1. Clare Luisi says:

    What a wonderful story and great pictures! And whoooo doesn’t like a “happy ending”? Thanks for all you guys do!

  2. Joseph Hayburn says:

    WOW!Unbelievably AWESOME.

  3. mary lenahan says:

    Yay! Great story! I am so glad that these precious birds were found by a kind soul. Great job, Sam Galick.

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