Sunday, November 21, 2010

Suburban Wildlife Rescue - What's the 411?

FYI - the Dulles South Public Safety Center phone number is 571-258-3200...Updated below! Interesting Sunday morning wildlife interaction here in South Riding - a very large horned owl was spotted yesterday by our kids fighting with a large golden-flecked hawk, and this morning was laying very alert and still on the ground at the edge of the forest and our street. A veritable crowd of children gathered to watch the owl, who observed us without seeming concern - but didn't move except to rotate its head and hiss once in a while. The hawk and a contingent of mockingbirds and cardinals intent on joining the party (mostly to harrass the hawk) very loudly continued to swoop and harrass the owl - and eventually retreated from the small throng of 3rd-graders and attendant amateur wildlife observers.

What to do? Call the Loudoun Animal Control Office?

Well, we did - and upon understanding that this was wildlife, they redirected me to the Wildlife Rescue League. Their message, if it wasn't about a deer, essentially directed me to collect the animal and deliver to a local wildlife rescue volunteer or facility...which wasn't something I'm actually trained to do right now. So I tried 411 to get the Dulles South Public Safety Center - they were unable to locate that phone number, even after I explained it was a large police and fire station in South Riding. I was eventually transferred to a Virginia-wide directory, who ended up transferring me to the Metropolitan Washington Transit Agency - the Metro folks.

I wasn't aware the Silver Line had reached Loudoun yet - but, luckily, we've posted the Dulles South Public Safety Center phone number on the front page of Dulles South Online - so I called there - only to have the phone ring about 20 times with no answer.

So, the owl sits bemused by the side of the road, the hawk and attendant pawns await further developments, and the children continue to gawk and hopefully don't get too close. This situation will likely resolve itself overnight, with the loss of a really beautiful owl...but that's our Suburban Wildlife Rescue process in action, evidently.

Thanks to the great response from the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center out of Millwod, VA (540-837-9000) for their help this afternoon in retrieving the Great-Horned Owl for care and rehabilitation...They rescue 1500 native wild birds, mammals and reptiles each year - evidently this was the second owl of the day. Pics below of the rescue...once better, our owl may be released back here in South Riding! (Keep your cats inside).

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Blogger Ted said...

Here's an update from the Wildlife Center Director - "The great horned owl from your community is still very weak and being tube fed every few hours. We did some testing today and found only anemia and other evidence of starvation. It appears to be one of this year's young that was unable to find food on its own and was slowly starving. I'm so glad you found him when you did.

Great horned owls raised in this area will usually stay with their parents until late December while learning to find and catch food on their own. This one must have become separated from its parents too early. "

6:56 AM  
Blogger Ted McLaughlan said...

Nov. 23rd update from the Center - "This is the most emaciated great horned owl I have ever seen. Rescuing him was only the beginning of the effort needed to save his life. When birds of prey have been starving for a long time, their bodies lose the ability to digest food. Currently, this owl is being kept on electrolyes and elemental nutrition while we wait to see if he can begin to digest food again."

2:06 PM  

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