The examination

It is not as bad as it first looks. It is a live examination. MiniMe just has its eyes closed for this part. We left off last Thursday, waiting for expert help to arrive. MiniMe and me.  Debbie Mauney, the  Medical Clinic Director for the Center for Birds of Prey, arrived and donned gloves with long sleeves. This was particularly interesting to me.They were a dull gray, not fashionably bright red but much more practical.

Debbie Mauney retrieves the owlet from the box so she can examine it for injuries
Debbie Mauney retrieves the owlet from the box so she can examine it for injuries

We have set up a card table to make it easier to do an examination. A kind of mash unit.  MiniMe looks terrible. Soaking wet, feathers covered in pluff mud and sort of whimpering. It is in bad shape. Debbie patiently demonstrates how I can help with gently securing the little one so she can safely examine its wings.

Debbie demonstrates how to hold the owlet for examination
Debbie demonstrates how to hold the owlet for examination

First you need to take control of those talons. Good to know. Especially since that is the opposite of the situation earlier when the talons had control of me. See earlier post.

Control the talons first, then the beak. Wear gloves.
Control the talons first, then the beak. Wear gloves.

Debbie carefully extended the owlet’s wings, one side at a time,  to examine for fractures. None were detected. Good news.

Exam over, we tried to get MiniMe to climb the tree that the other owlet was in. It was watching all this time wide-eyed. Mom also flew in when the  owlet was whimpering. I don’t even know how to describe that sound. All I can say is that it sounded like a baby owlet crying. The mother owl did not fuss at us, simply observed.

We could not get MiniMe to grab onto the same tree as Big Sib, too vertical. So we placed her in the lichen covered Live Oak in our neighbor’s garden that is at about a 45 degree angle. MiniMe has been in this tree before. See an earlier post, she has been rescued so many times, I don’t know which post…)

After exam
After exam

The owlet is exhausted and pretty stressed out. It has been through a lot, not all of which we even know about. Debbie tried to gently coax it to climb a little higher. MiniMe tried. Mom owl communicated encouragement and MM tried again. Then.

This is really sort of embarrassing for a Great Horned Owlet to admit to happening, but it’s true. A squirrel, yes a squirrel, was protecting its nest and harassed MiniMe into jumping out of the tree!!!

Debbie retrieves MiniMe
Debbie retrieves MiniMe

Please look at the length of this little owlet’s wing span! Very impressive. As you can see, it has started to dry out, feathers puffing up and getting feisty. This is a good sign. Also impressive is how Debbie handles the bird – with authority and gentleness.

Now where to put it? We discuss. Not safe to leave on ground. Debbie likes the nest tree as best option. With the help of friends that stopped over, we set up the ladder to the nest tree. (yeah, I know, we thought we were done with ladder work too.)

Debbie climbs up and places MiniMe in the nest, a familiar and safe environment.

Back in the nest tree

MiniMe appears a little chagrined, but see how good she looks in just a few hours. The warmth of the sun is helping, as well as owl communications from Mom.

Debbie cautions me that sometimes chicks just don’t make it, despite all our efforts to help them along. We discuss intervention versus interference. It can be a very fine line. Her expertise, patience and moral support have been invaluable to me. And continues to be.

Thirty minutes after she left, MiniMe jumped out the back door of the nest tree!

MiniMe is heading back to the marsh!
MiniMe is heading back to the marsh!

This is one determined little owlet. And I warned you last post that this is a very long story. Remember that this is how I found her (below) just about 5 hours earlier.

It is hard to believe this is the same bird. But it is. And we are only half way through the story of what happened last Thursday, March 20th.

MiniMe looks dreadful. And hurt. In the early morning...
MiniMe looks dreadful. And hurt. In the early morning…
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7 thoughts on “The examination”

  1. You look like a professional holding that bird for an exam, Dale! Have you thought about volunteering in the clinic? Hmmm? You have plenty of experience handling owls now. Our next volunteer staff orientation will be held this summer…:)

  2. We would love to have you helping out at the Center. Matter of fact, I’m already thinking that maybe you and your husband could be in charge of a re-nesting program in the Charleston area. We know you’ve got plenty of experience with that!

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