Great Horned Owlet #20-0154

March 7, 2020
September 27, 2020
Rescue Location
Campbell County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Nest destruction
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

 On March 7, 2020, a private citizen found a hatchling Great Horned owlet at the base of a tree below a damaged nest. They reported that the night before, they had endured high winds, likely resulting in the owlet’s nest destruction. After admitting the owlet as a patient, the rehabilitation team asked the private citizen to keep an eye on the nest site, in case the parents were to return. Unfortunately, the parent owls were not seen again and the baby could not be returned to the nest site.

After the veterinary team treated the week-old owlet for dehydration, they moved it into an incubator. At this age, the owlet was not able to thermoregulate yet. While in the incubator, a mirror was placed inside so that the owlet did not feel alone; this is important in their development of establishing what they are. The rehabilitation team always wears camouflage masks while working with owlets this age to prevent human imprinting.

Fortunately, the Center has a foster Great Horned Owl, Papa G’Ho, who has stepped in to fill the parental role in many young owlets' lives. While this owlet was too small to be in an actual enclosure with Papa, the rehabilitation team placed a photo of Papa inside the incubator enclosure with the baby.

As the owlet aged and no longer needed to be housed in an incubator, it was moved into an indoor crate next to Papa.

On April 3, the rehabilitation team reported that the owlet was ready to be acclimated to the outdoor temperatures. The acclimation process takes place in an outdoor enclosure area called Metals; the two owlets will move outside during the day, and back inside during the colder nighttime temperatures.

Your donation will help provide months of care to this baby Great Horned Owl … and to the more than 3,000 wild animals the Center will admit this year. Thank you! 

Patient Updates

On September 27, after spending most of the spring and all of summer here with us at the Center, Great Horned Owlet #20-0154 was released back into the wild in Augusta County.

It demonstrated strong flying ability as it flew over the forests near the famous Blue Ridge Parkway. Check out the video below to watch the release!

Great Horned Owlet #20-0154 has officially been cleared for release! After demonstrating strong flying as well as passing mouse school, this owl is ready to be returned to the wild where it  belongs. Sometime in the next few days our veterinarians will do some final checkups, before transferring #20-0154 to a transporter to be released in a suitable habitat.

Great Horned Owlet 20-0154 began exercise in the Center’s large flight pen A2 on September 1, 2020. Exercise notes remark that this bird is flying superbly; rehabilitation student Ben says that this owl "is silent, has majestic form, has pinpoint accuracy with perching, achieves great height, and has great stamina". (He ended his exercise notes with "*chef’s kiss*")

Papa G’Ho and the two owlets spent the summer in a flight pen at the Center; since the young owls will be in the Center’s care until this fall, the rehabilitation staff was able to utilize the larger A-pen space for a number of Bald Eagles and other raptors that were closer to release. Now that summer is ending, the staff wanted to return the owl family to a larger area so the young birds could have additional space as they practice flying. On August 19, Papa and the two young owls were moved back to A2.

There is a new Critter Cam in this space — one with an IR light, for night-time viewing! The cam will be streamed as soon as it is able to be added to the encoder list.

Papa G’Ho and the two young owlets are doing well in flight pen A2. The birds are growing up, and are eating well. Since the birds won’t be old enough to successfully provide for themselves until the fall, they have several months yet at the Wildlife Center. This weekend, the rehabilitation staff will move the owl family to flight pen #5, so that the team can utilize A2 for the growing young eagle patients, which will be released later this summer.

This past weekend, the rehabilitation staff moved Papa G’Ho and his two young charges to flight pen A2. This larger space will give the owlets plenty of room to start making larger and larger flights as they continue to grow. You can watch them on Critter Cam #2!


Great Horned Owlet #20-0154 has been doing well and growing quickly! On April 7, the owlet was moved to Flight Pen 3, along with surrogate Papa G’Ho. This space will give the owlet plenty of room as it grows in its flight feathers and starts making its very first short flights.

It’s hard to believe this is the same owlet that arrived at the Center weighing only 144 grams on March 7; the owlet now weighs 1.05 kg.