Owl Chicks – Do you know what to do if you find one on the ground?

Lately it seems I’ve been bumping into baby owls in a few different spots in and around the Montreal region. I wouldn’t have thought to much about it until a friend of mine called to report an Owl Chick on the ground. I realized then that we’re all a little unprepared.

Great Horned Owl ChickGreat Horned Owl Chick

Technically like any bird, if it has feathers covering it’s body the parents will take care of it, even if it’s fallen out of the nest. Just make sure you see the parents nearby. If it’s a bird of prey (Raptor) keep your distance. Birds of prey are easily contaminated (denatured) by human contact, especially juveniles. Once denatured they can start perceiving humans as one of them, making it impossible to return them to the wild.

Great Horned Owl with ChickGreat Horned Owl with Chick

In the case of a large owl like the Great Horned Owl it’s a different story. First of all birds of prey (Raptors) are protected under federal law. You should never interfere unless properly instructed to by a wildlife specialist. If the parents are nearby you also risk getting attacked. A large bird of prey is truly capable of hurting you. Worst, the parents risk injury by you as you try and defend yourself from having large talons piercing your flesh.

Eastern Screech Owl with ChickEastern Screech Owl with Chick

If you’re truly worried for the safety and security of a bird of prey (Raptor), you should contact your local wildlife service or an organization legally authorized and specialized in rescuing and caring for birds of prey. It’s best to do your research before heading out.

In the Montreal region (Quebec) this is what UQROP recommends:

  • Make sure the bird is truly in need of help.
  • If it’s a chick, leave it on site where you found it and contact us.
  • Wear gloves and use a blanket or jacket to catch it.
  • Quickly put the bird in a perforated cardboard box, avoid wire cages.
  • Keep the bird in a quiet, dark and cool place (22-25 degrees Celsius)
  • Limit contact with humans to a strict minimum.
  • Contact the Clinic for Birds of Prey, toll free (Quebec) 1-877-644-4545 or outside office hours, SOS poaching centralesos@mrn.gouv.qc.ca 1-800-463-2191 to route of the bird.
  • Route the bird as soon as possible in order to increase its chances of survival

You can contact the Clinic for birds of prey at:

Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
University of Montreal
Saint-Hyacinthe
514 345-8521 ext 8427 for calls from the Montreal area or 450 773-8521 ext 8427

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