Our Owls

Thanks for visiting and taking some time to meet the owls in our care.  We’re often asked what they eat. Their diet in captivity includes rats and mice. In the wild, depending on the species of owl, they may also eat snakes, prairie dogs, insects, other small animals, and road kill. If you would like to help us feed the owls, you can contribute by clicking the button near each owl’s description.  Or help us by adoption!

In Memoriam

We are deeply saddened to announce that our snowy owl passed away on November 12th. During the fifty-five weeks that we were privileged to care for this remarkable raptor, we learned a tremendous amount about this enigmatic species. Docents, staff and the public were enchanted by his beauty, and his death has been especially frustrating because we took so many precautions to prevent it.

The necropsy performed less than 24 hours later revealed a massive infection of aspergillosis, nearly all of it in the posterior air sacs which lie in the belly area of a bird. This silent, deadly respiratory disease, caused by a fungus, strikes fear into the hearts of everyone who works with raptors. It is difficult to treat once a bird is infected, and often not possible to prevent. The chronic form of the disease, which our snowy had, can take months to develop, sometimes with absolutely no outward signs of illness. Certain species, such as gyrfalcons, goshawks, golden eagles and immature red-tailed hawks are notorious for their susceptibility, especially when they are under stress such as migration, transfer to a new facility, or newly-fledged from the nest. Understanding that he would experience a certain amount of stress in the transition from Indiana to our facility in Colorado, we took all the precautions we could, including a full blood and neurological work-up, and radiographs (x-rays) once he arrived.

Based on the medical findings, we put him on a couple of medicines for parasites, and without any signs of illness, in an overabundance of caution, we also treated him with Itraconazole for twenty-one days. This is the go-to drug for aspergillosis and captive raptors under stress are frequently treated with it, just in case. Over the summer, knowing how vulnerable Arctic species are to lower latitude mosquito-born illnesses, we also put him on a prophylactic regimen of Lariam, an anti-avian malaria drug. The avian form of this disease is known to kill raptors within 72 hours of the first symptom, and we did not want to risk missing anything. And of course, we vaccinated him and all of our birds for West Nile virus.

By the time we realized something was wrong, it was simply too late. His body will be donated to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science for acceptance into their permanent collection. All we can do is attempt to learn from the time we cared for him, and perhaps do things differently in the future. As one of our consulting vets reminded us, control and prevention of every disease is impossible, and the overriding philosophy of, and intent of the special permits we hold from the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service, is to use raptors for education. They are not merely ornaments to decorate enclosures and not be seen by the public. While we work through our sadness, we are somewhat comforted by the knowledge that we truly fulfilled our educational mission through the numerous programs that he participated in. The faces of children and adults alike lit up when he entered a room; the audible gasps and sea of cell phones that materialized were something none of us will forget.

Most of all, we would like to thank each and every one of you who contributed to our “Support our Snowy” campaign which helped us acquire, house, and care for him. To all of you who visited our facility to meet him, signed up for a program, or showed up at an event, we are profoundly grateful for your enthusiasm and support.~Anne Price, Curator of Raptors.     

By request, a special memorial fund has been established to help us with future veterinary care requirements.  Thank you for your support.  Photo below by Marilyn Stevens


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 Barred Owl: Strix varia
Date of Birth: Unknown      Sex: male  Weight26 oz    Wingspan: 3 ft.
Our male barred owl was found by a road in the Jasper-Pulaski State Wildlife Area in Indiana in the late fall of 2013.  He had likely been hit by a car. After being rehabilitated for a fractured left humerus, we received him in August of 2014.
Barred Owl Food Options

 

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 Short-earred Owl: Asio flammeus
Date of Birth: Unknown      Sex:  Weight    Wingspan: 3 ft.
 
Short-earred Food Options

 

 

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Screech Owls: Megascops asio -gray and red morph
Dates of Birth: Unknown     Sex: Males  Weight: 5.2 and 4.3 oz  Wingspan: should  be 12 in.
These eastern screech owls were both hit by cars which resulted in both birds have totally compromised wings.  Though they cannot fly, both maneuvers around their special pen very well, and like to sit up as high as possible.  Screech owls are very powerful for their size. They eat a variety of bugs, small rodents, and birds.
photo by Marilyn Stevens
 
Screech Owl Food Options

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 Great-horned Owl: Bubo virginianus
Date of Birth
: 2015      Sex: Male  Weight: 53oz    Wingspan:48 inches
He jumped early from his Michigan nest in 2015, fracturing his right wing in the process. He was on the ground for about a week behind a barn before he was finally picked up and brought to rehab. Great horned owls are the most common large owl in North America. Their diet is that of a generalist, meaning they will consume everything from earthworms, beetles, birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. They are found in a wide variety of habitats, including the center of large city-scapes.
 
Great Horned Feeding Options

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