(Bubo virginianus). Patient Number 20-0275.
Date of admission: May 27th, 2020.
Reason for admission: Damaged feathers.
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 Great Horned Owl was found at the side of a highway, unable to fly. Upon examination at AIWC’s hospital, it was found he was suffering from damage to his wing feathers and tail feathers. The damage was so severe, as if they had been cut, that the bird could not fly.
The owl will need to go through a feather moult to grow new flight and tail feathers, and then can be returned to the wild. For now, he is well fed and in an outdoor enclosure to keep stress levels low, and access to sunlight will promote good feather growth. Thank you for helping us to keep him forever wild!