Gulliver- Great Horned Owl
In the summer of 2013, this young owlet was found on the side of the road in Polk County with a traumatic eye injury, most likely sustained in a collision with a vehicle. She was initially taken to a local vet who provided immediate care to stabilize her condition and then she was transferred to ARC for evaluation and ongoing care. Unfortunately, the damage to her left eye was severe and she lost all vision in that eye deeming her non-releasable.
It appears that Lucy had been unable to hunt for several days as she was emaciated and quite weak. She had feather mites and was generally in very poor health. She refused to eat on her own and had to be hand fed upon arrival at ARC.
She slowly improved and when she was ready to be transferred out of the clinic, we placed her in the enclosure with Hunter, our 11-year-old resident screech-owl, hoping Lucy would take comfort from being in close proximity to and hearing the reassuring sounds of an adult of her own species. Although Lucy was full-grown (all birds of prey are full-grown at 12 weeks of age) she would have remained near her parents for a few more weeks as she honed her flying and hunting skills.
Lucy is learning to sit properly on the falconer’s glove and although she is still a bit shy and prefers to sit in her box, she is slowly becoming more social. She will often sit atop her box and greet visitors when she is out at the pavilion on Saturdays.
Henry, a captive-bred European Barn Owl, was chamber-raised by his parents until the age of 5 weeks old. Chamber-raised means a hatchling remains in the chamber, or nest, with its parents and without any human interaction until it is removed for training. Spending the first few weeks of his life with his natural parents enabled Henry to know that he is a Barn Owl and allowed him to learn many normal Barn Owl behaviors.
ARC had been seeking a rehabilitated Barn Owl capable of flight for over a year. With no suitable candidates available, ARC decided to adopt Henry. By the age of 10 weeks, Henry was ready to travel to his new home here at the Avian Reconditioning Center.
In the wild, Barn Owls perch high up in barns and other similar structures so it's no surprise that Henry inquisitively searches behind boxes and in corners for a suitable perch. He is well mannered and allows his handlers to gently lift the feathers behind his facial disk to show his large ears.
Although found on every continent except Antarctica, Barn Owls are elusive and rarely seen in the wild, making Henry very popular with birding enthusiasts and the general public. He is sometimes called the "Sweetheart" owl because of his heart-shaped face.
Gulliver was a very young owlet when she was blown from a tree on a windy night in 1987. As she tumbled to the ground, she fractured her right wing. Although surgically repaired, the wing sustained permanent damage and it was evident that Gullie could not be returned to the wild.
Great Horned Owls, also known as "Tigers of the Sky," are the largest and most powerful owl species occurring in Florida. Because it was quickly realized that Gullie would be non-releasable, glove training began as soon as she recovered from surgery.
During the spring, Gullie has a very important job that keeps her quite busy. She acts as a surrogate parent to orphaned Great Horned Owlets. In many cases she accepts abandoned eggs as her own, often incubating them for several weeks before it becomes apparent the eggs are not viable.
Gullie readily takes to young, downy orphans, bonding with and feeding them attentively. Bonding helps a chick establish its identity and plays an important role in social development, both essential to a normal life in the wild. She also teaches them the vital skills necessary to survive once released to their natural habitat.
With her nearly 5-foot wingspan, tremendous powerful feet, razor-sharp talons and enormous gold eyes, Gullie is truly a magnificent sight to behold.
In the fall of 2006, this Barred Owl was found as a pre-fledgling on the ground in Sumter County, Florida. She was taken to a local rehabber and later transferred to a larger raptor facility where she received care for several weeks.
After a time, it was established that this owl had imprinted on people, she was permanently placed with a wildlife education facility on the west coast of Florida where she remained for the next 3 years. In June of 2010, that facility was closing and so this beautiful owl, now 3-years old, found her new home at ARC.
Henry- European Barn Owl
In the spring of 2016, this young owlet was admitted to ARC exhibiting neurological issues, probably as a result of colliding with a car. His body weight was low as he was unable to hunt and he was in very poor physical health overall.
Because of the damage to his central nervous system, Red lacked coordination and had a difficult time perching. When startled, he would flip upside down on his perch.
Once his health improved, we began working with him to correct his balance and coordination skills. His progress was slow so thankfully we had some very patient volunteers who spent many hours working with him. He now seems comfortable and quite content to sit on the falconer’s glove.
He is oh-so-curious and continually swivels his head to check out his surroundings whenever he is out of his mews. He will often call to the volunteer who is holding him on the falconry glove.
Screech-owls occur in three color morphs--red, gray and brown. Red is named for his beautiful rufous-colored plumage. His eyes are bright yellow and provide a striking contrast against his plumage giving him a very dignified appearance.
In the wild, when frightened, screech-owls will attempt to make themselves ‘invisible’ by standing very tall and still against a tree trunk. Red sometimes mimics this defensive behavior when approached too quickly by strangers.
Red is a bit shy about eating in front of anyone, but as soon as he’s alone he eagerly digs into his dinner of a fresh mouse and he occasionally enjoys crickets and mealworms as a snack. He loves to take a bath and preen his plumage; he is always impeccably well-groomed.
In June of 2002, this young owlet fell from his nest cavity. Although he didn't sustain any injuries from the fall, Hunter was attacked by Blue Jays while on the ground. Even though he was far too young to pose any real threat, Blue Jays will commonly attack any predatory bird in the area.
His left eye was seriously injured in the attack and could not be saved. Since Hunter was still a downy owlet at the time of the attack, it was unsure if there would be permanent damage to the feathers.
Hunter was transferred to The Avian Reconditioning Center to recuperate following surgery and became a permanent resident shortly thereafter. Although it seemed to take a long while, new feathers slowly began to emerge!
Typical of this nocturnal species, Hunter is content to perch quietly during the day, sometimes venturing onto the top of his "nestbox." Before settling down for the day, Hunter greets the sunrise with much twittering, trilling and the quavering whistled call common to the Screech-owl.
Gordon- Great Horned Owl
Red- Eastern Screech Owl
Gordon was a very young owlet when a tree cutter found him on the ground in a wooded area. Assuming that the owl had fallen out of his nest and was abandoned by his parents, the tree cutter took Gordon home and kept him for several weeks before taking him to a qualified licensed rehabilitator.
During those first weeks, in order for the owlet to have had healthy development and to have learned the proper skills to survive in the wild, Gordon needed to be raised by his parents, or one of his own species. In fact, although Gordon was found on the ground, he was perfectly healthy. Many times after young owlets leave the nest, parents will feed their young on the ground until they are able to fly.
Because Gordon was taken out of his environment and raised by a human, he will never be able to be released into the wild. Gordon does not consider himself a Great-horned Owl, but identifies with people because he was imprinted so early in his life. When he arrived at the Avian Reconditioning Center, Gordon stood out from the other young Great Horned owlets. While the others would hiss and clack from a high perch at people, Gordon would be on the ground begging for food, not showing any natural fear.
Because Gordon did not show the necessary skills to survive in the wild, he found a permanent home at ARC. Gordon has enjoyed visiting many day camps and groups, and finds every experience new and exciting. He is quite the character and sometimes it can be humorous to just sit and watch him. Gordy becomes amazed by flying insects, especially butterflies.
Hunter- Eastern Screech Owl
Whisper- Common Barn Owl
Whisper was transferred to the Avian Reconditioning Center from another local teaching facility in April 2009 when she was 6 years old. She was having trouble adjusting to her previous surroundings and her trainers thought she might be more comfortable at a smaller facility.
Whisper loves to be outdoors and seems quite content in her new living quarters. This structure allows Whisper a virtually unobstructed, panoramic view of the natural world surrounding her. Even though she is nocturnal, Whisper will often perch contentedly atop the box during the day seemingly taking it all in. When she gets tired, she snuggles down inside the box, pulls one leg up to her chest and settles down to sleep.
Although Whisper dozes throughout the day, she becomes quite animated with nightfall. On a starry, moonlit night, her silhouette is visible to us as she experiences and reacts to many things our human eyes do not have the capacity to discern.
Mrs. P.- Barred Owl
Lucy- Eastern Screech Owl