Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

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(Bubo virginianus). Patient Number 24-24.

Date of admission: Feb 7, 2024.
Reason for admission: Eye Injury.

Patient History:

In 1977, the children of Alberta were asked to vote for a provincial bird. The children selected the great horned owl to be Alberta’s provincial bird, a title the species retains to this day. Great horned owls are one of Alberta’s most recognizable birds, easily identified by their 'horns'. Great horned owls are commonly found across the province, but wooded areas and river valleys are their preferred habitats. They are permanent residents of Alberta; these owls have adapted well to the cold temperatures of the winter months.

Like most owls, great horned owls are most active at night. Their excellent eyesight and hearing make them formidable predators during the evening and overnight hours. These owls prey on several species of birds and rodents, but will also prey on hares. Great horned owls pair for life, with both owls caring for the young (owlets). Two or three eggs are laid each year at the end of February, or in early March.

This juvenile Great Horned Owl was rescued from an acreage near AIWC, in Rocky View County. Upon intake, it was evident that he was severely emaciated, with trauma present in both eyes, although the damage to the right eye was notably more extensive. Currently, he is undergoing a regimen of fluids, medication, and nutritional support to enhance its overall body condition. A recent surgery was also performed to remove the contents of the right eye. Given that owls rely more on hearing than sight for flying and hunting, we are hopeful that, with continued care and support, this owl will be able to lead a fulfilling life in the wild after a complete recovery.