Trio of owlets soar through the night sky
Three precious wild owlets are illuminating the night sky with their majestic snowy plumage after being rescued as orphans.
A local resident discovered the juvenile owls in the hollow of a felled tree near the Bellarine Peninsula in the south-west of Melbourne. A wildlife carer transported the vulnerable owlets to Werribee Open Range Zoo’s RSPCA Koala Ward for medical assessment.
The rescued nightbirds, weighing only about 300 grams, underwent a full health examination under anesthetic, including blood tests and X-rays.
Werribee Open Range Zoo Veterinary Nurse Layla Merritt said the owlets had been left by their parents following the loss of their tree home.
“Owlets require roughly 14 weeks of care before they are strong, healthy and independent enough to leave their nest,” Ms Merritt said. “Sadly, the owlets were found abandoned, so veterinary assistance and hand-raising with a wildlife carer were essential to ensure their survival.”
After receiving the all-clear from Werribee Open Range Zoo’s veterinary team, the owlets underwent nine weeks of pre-release care with a wildlife carer, who took on the role of foster parent.
“The owlets lived in a small, safe and enclosed space that simulated a tree-like hollow environment for them, where they were provided with a wild diet,” Ms Merritt said. “Once they were old enough to fledge, they were cared for in a recovery aviary to build up their strength and independence.”
The owlets then spent two weeks in a purpose-built soft release aviary in Torquay, which slowly introduced them to that environment before their return to the wild.
“Before removing any old trees, take the time to inspect for hollows that may be providing important shelter and breeding opportunities for owls and other animals.”
Ms Merritt said watching the owlets fly away was filled with emotion.
“There was some nervousness but, overall, I was just filled with delightfulness and gratitude that they had managed to make it through to this stage. More than anything I was incredibly proud to see what beautiful birds they have become.”
Ms Merritt said there were some simple actions people can take to care for owls and native wildlife.
“Before removing any old trees, take the time to inspect for hollows that may be providing important shelter and breeding opportunities for owls and other animals,” Ms Merritt said.
“If you see an owl on the ground that could be possibly injured or in distress, it’s important to keep your distance to avoid injury from their powerful talons. Please contact Wildlife Victoria or your local wildlife carer who will be able to provide expert advice.”