March was been a high-publicity month for great horned owls in Alberta!
Mid-month, we admitted our first baby animal of 2016: a great horned owl nesting who had fallen out of the nest and was brought to the centre. As is often the case with nestling birds, he was found without injury and had a short stay in care before he was returned to the wild.
Thankfully, the finder made note of the nest location on the University of Calgary premises, and our volunteer rescue team was able to return him to his parents and two siblings right away.
Of course, being located on a university campus meant the owl family became instant celebrities, and you can read more about them on CBC news here, and hear AIWC talk about them on CBC Eyeopener radio here.
AIWC has been able to keep an eye on the owlets’ progression on campus and was pleased to see all three owlets fledge successfully, and they’ve been able to move on from their initial nesting site, which was too busy for them to stay too long.
Calgarians were lucky to be able to appreciate urban wildlife so closely, but the crowds they started to draw also started to become a risk to their successful growth and development.
Also making headlines were nesting owls in Kananaskis country. Alberta Parks has closed some climbing routes at Grassi Lakes to minimize disturbances, and you can read more about the closure notices on the Alberta Environment & Parks website here.
Great horned owls can have a long lifespan in the wild (approximately 13 years), but the first year is the most crucial to their survival and where they have the highest mortality rate, as they learn to hunt and adapt to their surroundings. A constant human presence at a great horned owl nest site can cause stress and distraction for the owlets and the adult owls focused on keeping them alive, and it is always best to give them a wide radius so they can be appreciated long-term.
Do you have any owl nesting sites in your area?