Teamwork Reunites Baby Owl and Parents in Long Beach

Photo by Mary Jane Sesto

Baby owls, like their young human counterparts, can have accidents while still 'getting their legs'…or in this case, their wings. One of three Great Horned owl youngsters caused a flurry of concern on Friday when it fell to the ground from its 50ft high nest on a trial near the Nature Center in El Dorado park in Long Beach. While waiting for South Bay Wildlife Rehab to assess the condition of the bewildered owlet, a safe buffer around the bird was established by Erin Kellogg and naturalists at the Nature Center. Here's how the successful reunification unfolded.

Phone calls began. Pete DeSimone at Starr Ranch Conservancy was consulted because of his extensive experience with owls at the ranch. Ann Lynch, Director of South Bay Wildlife Rehab was notified. Her Assistant Director, Christina Jones, agreed to go to El Dorado Center to assess the condition of the bird and supervise its rescue. Meanwhile, Ann called Gillian Martin. Gillian is co-founder of The Tree Care for Birds and other Wildlife Program of International Society of Arboriculture (TCBW). Could she locate a tree climber to return the bird to the nest?

The phone relay continued. Within minutes, Gillian located West Coast Arborists. The company is the tree care contractor for the City of Long Beach. Protecting birds is a priority to them. They follow best management practices to reduce impact on nesting birds established by the TCBW program. To do so, they provide annual training for their crews. Regional Manager, Rob Thompson, immediately responded: “Yes, I can have a climber there within an hour.” West Coast Arborists has responded to similar requests in the past.

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Photos by Mary Jane Sesto

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Back at the scene while waiting for Ann to locate a tree climber, El Dorado staff made a call to the City Parks, Recreation and Marine Maintenance Department. Could they bring a ladder to put the bird at a safe height off the ground…say 25 feet? It would need to be contained temporarily in a suitable box affixed to a strong limb. Don Leonhard and Omar Barbosa came to the rescue.

Within an hour West Coast Arborist’s tree climber arrived--Cescario Wenceslao was the hero of the hour. In no time the owlet was back in its nest. When safely back on the ground, Cescario was able to report that the owl’s parents were good providers. Several rodents and even a snake were ready for dinner. And what of the parents and siblings during this time? Christina said mom and dad remained attentive nearby, and though they demonstrated distress they did not become aggressive. Their two other youngsters, feeling vulnerable in the nest while Cescario climbed the tree, wobbled to a nearby perch ready to flee if necessary.

The owl’s nest will remain under the watchful eyes of the Nature Center’s staff and volunteers. Now! If only owl parents could keep their feisty youngsters in check! Christina reports this is not an unusual event.

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Photos by Mary Jane Sesto

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