Barred Owl Recovery

By Megan Stuart, class of 2020

On February 26th, the clinic received a barred owl that had been found after being hit by a car. The owl was upright and didn’t have any immediately noticeable problems. 2 fractures were palpated during the initial exam, one fracture was on the foot and the other on the clavicle. Both had a callous over them which indicates the car accident was not the cause, and these fractures were much older. There was a foul smell coming from the face, and under the closed left eyelid was a collapsed eye that was brown, wrinkly, and shrunken in. The team provided antibiotics, pain medications, and fluids to the patient along with a quiet, dark cage for rest.

Within a few days, we were able to take radiographs (x-rays) of the barred owl’s body. The fractures were confirmed as old and stable in the leg and clavicle.

The radiographs helped the team diagnose that the fractures likely occurred prior to the patient being hit by a car

The patient hadn’t been eating very well which is something to expect from some patients that stay in the clinic and are not used to “hunting in a cage.” Rather than placing mice thawed from the freezer in the cage, we dangled a few in front of the owl’s face and she ate it up!

We were able to get an ophthalmology consultation for the left eye; they deemed it not painful or a problem to the patient, especially now since there was no scent left. Since owls use their sense of hearing to hunt, having only one functional eye is no problem to survive in the wild. The brown comes from fibrinous material as a result of healing from a previous trauma to the eye. Fibrin comes into tissue that has trauma to the normal tissue after an infection has taken place and binds the original tissues back together with a scar.

Although the eye was not functional, owls can still be released because they rely most heavily on hearing to hunt

Now that the barred owl had reached a satisfactory hydration status, finished its antibiotic regimen, and was no longer in need of pain medications, all we need to provide is food and a clean dark cage to rest. Pretty soon, we hope to send the barred owl to a rehabilitation facility to rest a little longer in a larger space before getting released back into the wild.