One Wildlife Center is Bursting with Adorable Baby Owls, But Not All of Them Need to Be There

It’s baby season for rescues in the northern hemisphere, and one wildlife center in Tucson, Arizona, is inundated with baby owls. While many of them needed the facility’s help, several others didn’t. Learn when juvenile birds do and do not need assistance by reading on. In your kind-hearted attempts to be of service, you could inadvertently be doing more harm than good.

spotted owlets
Photo: Pixabay/Kridsadar

Wildlife Centers

Wild baby season is in full bloom, and at Tucson Wildlife Center it appears to be raining baby owls! TWC is currently caring for several little owlets from different species, including Great Horned Owls, Barn Owls, and Western Screech Owls. While some did need medical care, others — regardless of good intentions — probably should have been left alone.

The TWC would like to remind everyone that not all baby owls on the ground need rescuing. Spending some time on the ground is actually a normal part of a young owlet’s life, as it may take them days to weeks (depending upon the species) to learn to fly at a certain level of competency. Mom and Dad are usually nearby keeping watch, even if you do not see them. Most young owls should be left where they are found unless they are injured or in immediate danger.

Photo: Pixabay/Lilly3012

<What to Do If You Find an Owlet

If you find a baby owl or other baby bird that appears to be orphaned, call TWC or your local wildlife center first before removing the little one so that intake specialists can advise you on the next steps. Before you call, it is helpful if you can identify whether the bird is a nestling or a fledgling.

Photo: Pixabay/RitaE

Identifying Baby Bird Stages

Not sure how to differentiate the two? If the baby bird is fluffy or downy and is unable to grip with its tiny feet, it is what is called a nestling and needs to be placed back in the nest or in a replacement nest. Try to do so without scenting the juvenile so that its parents don’t reject it. A pair of gloves or even picking it up in a T-shirt will do.

If the baby is largely feathered and can perch and hop around, it is a fledgling. Fledglings are ready to be out of the nest while their parents continue to care for them.

More information on what to do if you do find a baby bird on the ground can be located on TWC’s website under Rescue FAQs.

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