CROW CAWs: Barn Owl Recovery

Barn Owls are nocturnal predators renowned for their white rounded faces and long rounded wings. These creatures roost in cavities during the day, in trees or man-made structures, and hunt small rodents at night. Barn Owls can be found in the majority of the United States year round. However, due to habitat loss, their range has declined and injury due to human causes has increased significantly.

This Barn Owl (24-2476) was admitted June 11th, after it was found grounded and unable to fly. Initial assessment showed the owl was emaciated, quiet, and moderately dehydrated. Further examination revealed corneal ulcers on both eyes, and injuries in the wrists. Dried blood was found on the right wrist (carpus) with moderate swelling, and bruising was noted on the left wrist.

Staff treated the Owl with an antibiotic cream for the eyes applied twice daily. Bandages were placed on both wings (also known as carpal bumpers) to protect the joints from further potential injury while in care. The patient was also given pain and anti-inflammatory medication. Since admission, the patient has shown a steady progression from treatments. The owl continues to show defensive behavior towards staff which is a good sign the patient is no longer in immense pain. The corneal ulcers have decreased in size, and there is no longer significant swelling or bruising in the joints.

Keen eyesight and flight mobility are important qualities for this species’ survival in the wild. Corneal ulcers can occur from exposure to chemicals, nutritional deficiencies, flying into objects, or from bacteria entering the eye. It is important to treat corneal ulcers in wildlife, specifically Barn Owls as they can cause pain and discomfort, impaired vision, and in extreme cases, loss of the eye. Flight mobility is necessary for barn owls to hunt effectively, evade predators, and navigate their environment. The current treatment plan for this Barn Owl is to transfer it to a partner rehabilitation clinic once it is ready to receive rehabilitation in an outdoor flight enclosure. CROW continues to rebuild their outdoor enclosures destroyed by Hurricane Ian.


CROW Case of the Week stories are written by Ali Reece and appear weekly in the Santiva Chronicle. Click HERE.