The Burrowing Owl

provided by CROW

Florida is home to five species of owls; the great horned owl,the barn owl, the barred owl, the eastern screech owl and the burrowing owl. The last owl on this list is quite unique. Unlike other owls and as their name suggests, these pint-sized birds nest in the ground. They are also diurnal, meaning they are active during the day and can often be seen sitting just outside the entrance of their burrows.

Cape Coral has the largest population of burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia floridana) in Florida, with an estimated 1000 nesting pairs and an upwards of 2500 burrows within the city limits. While the owls are quite tolerant of humans, they still face many threats living in an urban landscape including vehicle strikes, domestic pets, and habitat destruction.

On August 6, an adult burrowing owl (patient #20-3765), standing at only nine inches tall and weighing 120 grams, was admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital. The little owl was reported to have an injured wing and veterinarians found it had soft tissue injuries caused by an unknown trauma to the underside of its left wing. The wound was cleaned and bandaged and the owl was given pain medication and antibiotics.

The next day, the owl was anesthetized so that a full set of radiographs could be taken to check for any other injuries.

“Radiographs showed a possible healed fracture of its leg, but no other abnormalities,” says CROW’s Veterinary Intern, Dr. Melanie Peel. “While the owl was under, we also performed a more thorough exam and found two other small puncture wounds which were cleaned and bandaged.”

Over the next few days, the owl continued to receive pain medication, antibiotics and a healthy supply of mealworms, crickets and mice. The veterinary team provided wound management care to keep the wounds clean and allow them to heal properly.

“After 10 days, the wounds were healthy and scabbed and the owl was eating well on its own,” says Dr. Peel. “It was ready to be moved to an outdoor enclosure to continue it’s rehab.”

In the outdoor enclosure, progress continues to be monitored. Once the wounds have fully healed and the owl is showing strong flight capabilities, it will be ready to be returned to it’s home.

THIS WEEK AT CROW (8/12-8/18):
There were 97 new patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital including 16 eastern gray squirrels, nine eastern cottontails, four double-crested cormorants, an adult loggerhead sea turtle, four Virginia opossums, two Florida box turtles, two great egrets, three black skimmers, and a bobcat. Recent Releases include a gopher tortoise, a black-crowned night heron, three Virginia opossums, and a red-shouldered hawk. Check out a full list of CROW’s current patients and recent releases!

Wildlife doesn’t have health insurance! Your donations help cover the costs of medical and rehabilitative care for over 5,000 patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital each year!

Want to learn more about wildlife rehabilitation? Stop by CROW’s Visitor Education Center at 3883 Sanibel Captiva Road. All Florida residents receive 10% off admission with proof of residency throughout the month of September!

About Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)
Established in 1968, the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) is a teaching hospital saving the sick, injured and orphaned native and migratory wildlife of Southwest Florida and beyond.  Through state-of-the-art veterinary care, public education programs and an engaging visitor center, CROW works to improve the health of the environment, humans and our animals through wildlife medicine. For more information, or to plan your visit, go to If you find an animal that is in need of help, call (239) 472-3644 ext. #222.

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