CROW’s newest animal ambassador, Mina, is a great horned owl who is missing one of her wings. Article courtesy of Jeff Lysiak, “Island Sun.”
They may hunt their prey at night without making a sound, but one of the most beloved bird species is actually amongst the smartest – and fiercest – raptors found in nature. Is it any wonder that there’s the expression, “Wise as an owl?”
Recently at the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW), approximately 30 people attended a presentation entitled Guess Hoo?, a lecture focused on owls found throughout Southwest Florida.
According to CROW Wildlife Rehabilitator Breanna Frankel, there are more than 200 owl species worldwide, approximately 20 of which are native to North America. Most species of owl are nocturnal, meaning that they are primarily active at night.
“When they’re hunting for food at night, they have to be really quiet,” said Frankel. “Their feathers are frayed and extra soft, which allows them to fly very silent.”
Physically, owls have tremendously strong talons, which allow them to grip their prey tightly. “They eat pretty much anything they can get their claws on,” she added, noting that their diet includes insects, rodents, snakes, small mammals and other birds.
During the 45-minute lecture, Frankel described the anatomy of owls, including information about their eyes, ears, tufts and wings.
“Their eyes don’t rotate in their sockets, so they have to turn their heads around when they’re watching something,” said Frankel, who noted that these birds can rotate their heads 270 degrees. “They also have three eyelids – one for blinking, one for cleaning, and one while they’re sleeping at night.”
The most common threats owls face have been created by humankind, including electrical wires, deforestation, barbed wire fencing, rodenticide poisoning and vehicular strikes.
As part of her presentation, Frankel introduced the audience to Mina, a great horned owl who is one of CROW’s animal ambassadors. Brought into the wildlife clinic in January, the owl had been discovered unable to fly.
“We noticed when she came in that she was missing one of her wings, but the amputation had completely healed over,” said Frankel. “Other than that, she was completely perfect… except she had a bit of an attitude. She was kinda mean, so that’s how she got her name. Mina.”
Over the past six months, Frankel has been working with Mina to become an ambassador for CROW. “This is her first presentation, so I’m pretty excited about this,” she added. “If you look at an owl’s tufts, you can tell if they’re calm, alert or agitated. Her tufts are relaxed a bit, so she’s pretty relaxed.”
For more information about CROW, call 472-3644 or visit www.crowclinic.org.