Raptor Trauma Clinic Treats, Releases Uncommon Owl Species

Barn Owls are native to Florida but rarely seen.

When a farmer finds a Barn Owl in the trusses of a barn, it’s considered a good omen: They prey on rodents, providing free pest control. When a homeowner in Clermont, 20 miles west of Orlando, noticed a Barn Owl nest in an old boat house on her property, it was a similarly exciting phenomenon. With their heart-shaped faces and haunting shrieks, Barn Owls are awe-inspiring creatures to behold. They’re also the least common of the five owl species that inhabit Florida, making sightings a rare occurrence.

As many baby raptors do before they fledge, the Barn Owl in the boat house fell from its nest, landing in the water. The homeowner noticed Red-shouldered Hawks dive-bombing the lake, and upon discovering their target was the young owl from her boat house, she took action.

The owl arrived in the Raptor Trauma Clinic on April 26 in surprisingly good shape: aside from minor abrasions to the face and eye, Clinic staff found no other injuries or illness. After a brief stay in the Clinic, this young Barn Owl was released on May 2, along the shore of the same lake where it hatched.

Just as Barn Owls are uncommon in Florida, their appearance in the Raptor Trauma Clinic is even more rare: the team sees one or two per year, though as recent as 20 years ago, they saw 10 to 15 Barn Owls per year. The species as a whole is on the decline due to the use of rodenticide and loss of nesting habitat. This was the second Barn Owl patient this year for the Raptor Trauma Clinic.

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