Care of Magical Creatures

A sign outside the University of Missouri at Columbia’s Raptor Rehab Project. 
Recently, we were bestowed a great honor – MRBO was asked by the staff of Mizzou’s Raptor Rehab Project (RRP) to band their rehabilitated birds before release.  Through potential band recoveries, the rehabbers will be able to determine the eventual fate of their birds.  

We at MRBO have been corresponding with the RRP folks for about a month now, and the first bird they asked us to band was a Turkey Vulture.  Boy, were we excited…until we found out that TVs need a special wing tag.  This requires not only an additional permit but also extensive collaboration with vulture banders throughout the hemisphere such that people do not overlap tag colors or numbers.  Alas, we are not destined to become vulture banders, BUT – this last week another bird was ready for release…the beautiful Hawthorne. 

Hawthorne is a hatch-year Barred Owl who’s wing was too long for our wing-chord ruler and who’s strong feet, thankfully, were secured by experienced rehabber Amber.  We placed a lock-on size 7B band on Hawthorne, and took various measurements with Amber’s help.  Unfortunately, the Owl’s measurements did not allow us to determine if it is male or female.  With a wing chord of 340 mm, tail of 232, and weight at an impressive 800 grams, measurements fell within the range of both sexes.  We were pleased to find a solid muscle score of 2 (out of 3), suggesting that the bird was in good health.  Hawthorne was released later that day, with everyone’s hopes for a good long life.  We look forward to banding more of the RRP’s birds as they are successfully rehabilitated.  
Barred Owl Hawthorne with its caretaker Amber.

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