Give a Hoot: The great horned owl rescue


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This baby owl and its sibling were rescued after falling from their nest at Indian River Colony Club.

photo by Randy Poppe

Louis Belize, an Indian River Colony Club golf course employee, discovered a baby owl on the ground while working on the seventh hole fairway. Realizing the owl was in trouble, he notified Ed Carbin from IRCC’s pest control. Randy Poppe started documenting the rescue attempt in photos and tracking the owl’s movement while Carbin contacted the Florida Wildlife Hospital and Sanctuary for direction and assistance.

The sanctuary requested that they capture and deliver the baby owl to FWHS.

Carbin and Johnie Sanchez , an IRCC pest control employee, carefully captured and took the owl to the sanctuary. The plan was to return the baby owl to its original location after a few days of observation, feeding and care, and once it was deemed healthy enough to return.

When delivering the baby owl to the sanctuary, they were surprised to learn that its sibling had been delivered a few days prior. 

The owlettes, as they are called, were most likely blown out of the nest during high winds.

The baby owl is ready for its trip to the Florida Wildlife Hospital and Sanctuary for evaluation. | PHOTO BY RANDY POPPE

Two days later, Carbin coordinated with Green Leaf for a hydraulic lift and, together with FWHS volunteers, installed a make-shift nest made from a modified laundry basket and securely fastened to the tree. The pair of owlettes were placed in the nest with hopes that the parents would return. 

FWHS volunteers are well educated in the habits and occurrences of blown-out nests and were fairly confident the parents would return. Families of the great horned owl stay together for a very long time. 

A short time later, Carbin and company discovered the return of the parents and the babies have since graduated to “branchers.” 

The wildlife sanctuary volunteers have assisted IRCC on numerous occasions with sick or injured animals discovered on IRCC property. 

Each year, approximately 4,800 animals are admitted to the sanctuary, cared for and returned to their place in the ecosystem. The FWHS is a nonprofit organization staffed entirely by volunteers and operates on donations from memberships, local companies and grants.

For more information on FWHS, call 321-254-8843.