The 1,000th patient of 2017, an eastern screech owl believed to be only a few days old, was admitted to the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife Wednesday, April 12.
The main reason the owls are admitted to CROW are because they fell out of their nest.
The smallest eastern screech owl CROW rehabber Brenna Frankel has ever seen still had its eyes closed when admitted.
1,000th patient of 2017 was a baby eastern screech owl believed to be a few days old.
"Unfortunately for this one the people that brought it in did not fill out any paperwork, so we have no history on him, or possible way to re-nest him," she said.
This baby, as well as another baby eastern screech owl that was admitted to CROW are currently nest mates. They are fed every couple of hours. Once they grow up a little more and eat on their own they will be moved to an outside flight enclosure.
She said neither of them have any fractures and will most likely be released once they are old enough.
Frankel said they are also caring for two other baby eastern screech owls between six to eight weeks old that are currently located outside in an enclosure. These two owls, who came from the same nest in Fort Myers, have been residing at CROW for approximately a month and a half.
"They are terrifying. You go in to feed them and you stay as far away because they launch at you with their talons out to get the mice that you are holding. They are very much independent," she said. "They are eating completely on their own and have been (since) a very early age, which is very impressive. Most owl species only eat whole prey, so they won't rip it up like other raptor species will. They typically hunt for things they know they can fit in their mouth and swallow in one continuous gulp, or a couple attempts at gulping."
The two baby eastern screech owls are eating well, creating a good body weight. Their adult feathers are also coming in, which is a slow and painful process, providing them with the ability to take short flights.
"We are waiting for them to grow up a little more before we put them into a larger enclosure," Frankel said. "When new feathers are growing in you don't want to offer them too many branches for the fear that if they hit one of their incoming feathers on something it can break and cause some massive blood loss. So we are keeping them in a nice safe place they know for a little bit longer. Eventually they will go to a bigger flight cage and then released."
Frankel said they would like them to be eating and flying reliably before released.
If individuals see baby owls out of their nest, Frankel said it is best to call CROW and explain the situation. She said the owls typically nest in holes in trees.
"We can help people find a nest, or maybe help them re-nest the baby itself instead of bringing them in if there is no apparent blood, cuts, or anything like that. It would be safe to put them back most likely," she said.
A juvenile bald eagle that was admitted to CROW last month is showing positive signs of improvement after discovering it had a fractured wing.
The fractured humerus on its left wing most likely occurred when it fell from the nest in Cape Coral. It was admitted to CROW on March 30, and as of April 12 it has been staying in an outside enclosure at the hospital.
"That is the best place for it because there are not people walking by it constantly. Toss some food in, let it eat and do its thing and leave it alone," Frankel said. "We have been doing physical therapy every three days."
During physical therapy April 11, Frankel said the eagle had pretty good range of motion. The eagle's wing span, so far, has been pretty tight before doing physical therapy.
"We do measurements on how far the wing will extend, contract and it does get a lot better with physical therapy. We are pretty impressed with the progress that is being made," Frankel said.
Although there is no good way to determine the age, the bald eagle was mostly likely born this past nesting season. It is under the age of 5 because it has yet to develop a white head.
The staff believes the eagle is a female because of its size.
"Size wise it is enormous compared to some of the other eagles we have in and its just a baby. Typically in eagles the females are the larger ones," Frankel said.
The bald eagle will continue to receive physical therapy, and have radiographs done for at least a months time. After the wing wrap is taken off it will be another couple of weeks at CROW, so the eagle can have cage rest without the bandage to start stretching its wing.
"If it makes it that far we will start him through the flying cages. We will start him a tiny flight enclosure and move him up to the small flight enclosure and eventually put him in our large flight enclosure," Frankel said.
The eagle is doing amazing outside and is eating a ton of food.
"It's actually really cute. You give him an 8 pound mullet and destroys his entire enclosure with it. He throws pieces," Frankel said. "He is a juvenile eagle and his is very feisty, just like they typically are."
It all depends on how the fracture heals to when, and if, the eagle is released.
"We don't really see a callus over the bone formation right now, so it is going to be a process and we are honestly just going to have to wait and see. If this eagle hasn't learned how to fly yet, the eagle may be okay. We may be able to help it, or teach it to fly with the fracture. We will have to see what kind of wing impediment it has towards the end of treatment," she said.