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Barred Owl in the Koi Pond & A Coyote Update

Example of Barred Owls

The hotline received a call last night from a concerned citizen in Ferguson, MO who had discovered an owl stuck in their neighbor’s koi pond.  The caller had already tried to free the owl, and had obtained the neighbor’s permission to cut the net if need be.  After cutting the owl out, she still didn’t fly away.  However, when the caller went back into his own house to look from a window, the owl was at least trying to fly away.  We always ask our callers if the bird is even trying to fly, or if they are just sitting and staring at you.  A bird that sits and stares may be stunned, or have something very different going on than a bird that attempts to fly but cannot take off.  What the bird looks like when it attempts to fly can tell us a lot as well.  This owl was at least trying to fly, which should mean good things for her once she is out of this pond.

We drove out to the caller’s home and he led us to his neighbor’s pond, which was 90% frozen solid at this point.  It was after dark, so with flashlights, coats, gloves, and a set of wire cutters, we approached the owl.

She saw us, but didn’t attempt to get away.  We think she knew pretty well by now that she was stuck.  We tried to pull her out of the vines and leaves on the side of the pond, not able to see anything that she was caught on.  But when we started to pull her out, the part of the net that was nothing more than a line of cord at this point, was completely stuck over her right leg and talon.  We cut the line, and then unwrapped it from her leg, which was wet from the pond, feathers frozen all the way down to the talon.  Her other leg looked okay, and her talon on that leg was flexing to grab at us, but the right one was not.  Her tail feathers were also wet and frozen solid.

In the crate and not happy about it.

At WBS Wildlife Hospital

The neighbors were not sure how long she had been in this predicament.  It may have been days, but we will never know.  We were hoping that after she warmed up a bit, she would be as good as new.  After spending a few hours in a warm crate, and becoming a LOT more active, the decision was made to try to let her go and see how she fared.  In Ferguson, about 5 miles from her accident, we opened the crate and waited to see what she would do.  She jumped out of the crate the second that she knew she could, and hopped about three feet into the grass.  She opened her wings and tried to fly, only to fall right back down on the ground.  We let her try a few more times, but then she stopped even attempting to flap her wings.  We decided it was time to re-catch her and return her to the crate so that we could take her to the good people at World Bird Sanctuary in the morning.  Boy did she love being re-caught!  We did finally get her safely though, even if she did completely hate us at this point.  So, back in the crate, into a heated room, sheet over the crate, and off to bed.  She was quiet all night and seemed to do okay.  By morning, she was less angry, but her face was right up against the crate door, waiting for us to give her another chance at freedom.  This time, she needed to be checked out first, no matter how sure she was that she was ready to go.

Exam at WBS Hospital

10am, we delivered her to World Bird Sanctuary in Valley Park, Missouri.  Two of their Rehabilitation Technicians did their examination and determined that she does have a small wing injury, plus her talons are quite long for a healthy owl.  Katherine, one of the technicians at the hospital, explained that this meant she wasn’t doing very well at catching things before this accident even happened.  She was also a bit skinny, and they prepared her for her first tube feeding in the hospital.  She will be staying at the hospital until she is deemed well enough to survive on her own again.  At that time she will be transferred to a large flight cage and ultimately, released back into the wild.  World Bird Sanctuary’s Wildlife

Katherine asking Owl to flap her wings

Hospital sees 300+ bird of prey patients per year, and is in constant need of the public’s support.  If you can offer assistance to them in the way of monetary donations, item donations (like paper towels, light bulbs, bird seed) or would like to volunteer with them, please visit one of the links below.  We will update this story as we learn more about how our little barred friend is doing.

Donate to the World Bird Sanctuary

View the Wish List for World Bird Sanctuary

Volunteer with World Bird Sanctuary

In other news, our Ballwin coyote has officially been baited and treated for mange.  All we can do now is hope that she took the bait (instead of some other coyote) and will soon be on the road to recovery.  If you live in the area, please understand that this was the only possible outcome for her.  We know that when you see her in your yard, she looks like she is dying and everyone is just trying to help her.  However, please realize that she is NOT as sick as she looks.  It’s hard to believe but that same coyote has been spotted by different Ballwin residents in a 5-6 mile radius, so she is not having any problems getting around – even with three legs.  We have confirmed at least one of her den sites, and there is plenty of squirrel and bunny fur in that area, telling us that she is not missing a meal.  We kept getting reports that she was so sick that we could approach her, but after too many unsuccessful attempts, we decided that baiting her with the medication was our only choice.  She’s just too wiley still.  Sometimes it is difficult for us to catch an injured animal, even if it does need treatment.  An injured animal if able to get away from us, away will.  In fact, an injured coyote is tougher to catch than a non-injured one usually, because the non-injured one can at least be caught off guard.  An injured animal is on guard, waiting for attack, because they know that are not at their best, and they are in constant fear of being taken advantage of while they are down.  This fact also explains why it is that many times we don’t get to treat an injured animal until it is extremely sick or injured.  Rehabbers do not often receive animals that are minimally injured, because no one can catch them.  Once they are extremely sick, then we see them more, and can -at times- finally approach them.  It is always perfectly fine to call us though.  We don’t mind at all!  We would rather have animal lovers calling us all day about the same animal than a sick or injured animal out there that no one cares about.


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