Adopted Barn Owl

Does anybody know how to owl?

POSTED: Wed Jun 15, 2016 11:25 pm

Hi! I recently found a place that breeds owls for educational and conservational purposes, but also sells them legally. I can work out the money and housing issues, but I am not sure about how to take care of a prey bird. Does anybody know anything about it? Internet is not really useful right now :/

Edit: I think I did not phrase this clearly, and all of you have a point n.n' i'll clear this up asap.
Last edited by Verve on Thu Jun 16, 2016 3:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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POSTED: Thu Jun 16, 2016 1:56 am

Yeah, I did a bit of research a while back, I would recommend feeding them dead day old baby chickens and small mammals, 2 or 3 a night, and if you get them frozen I'd let them thaw first ^^

Also you'd have to examine the bird regularly for things like weight loss, changes in the appearance of the feet, changes in appetite, and make sure you have a qualified vet to go to if any of those things occur because birds don't always act sick until its pretty much too late :/

Also, you have to trim the beak and talons every once in a while so they don't over-grow (probably best left to an avian vet or bird groomer)
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POSTED: Thu Jun 16, 2016 2:42 am

My biggest recommendation would be to spend a fair amount of time at the conservation bird sanctuary first before getting one x3 Volunteer there, and get to know the behaviors, feeding habits, maintenance requirements, etc. of the animals before considering to buy one as a pet.

Especially if you've never owned a bird.


Birds are completely different animals from a dog or cat and require different needs and attentions than them as well! You can't just pet a bird like you would another soft, fluffy mammal. Birds are like cats in that they will let you pet them on their terms. If it's hand-raised, you might end up with one that everyone coos and awwws over in all of the YouTube videos. If you're handling an older bird, chances are, they will not let you just walk up and pet them willy-nilly. People who have not interacted with birds before often have a hard time reading or understanding this. Birds will use their beaks to defend themselves, and this bite can be a firm but simple "Get away from me" shove to a hard and sometimes flesh-piercing "I'm going to break your finger!" chomp! Smoothed/feathers close to the body often shows distress, anger, or a frightened animal. Wings spread out may be an indication that they're about to jump/fly or, again, distress. There's a lot of cues that you'd have to learn if you want your relationship with your bird to not be one of chaos and "omg they're just another crazy bird!"

Like Corie said, birds don't give much notice when they're sick unless they're really sick, and, by then, it's often too late to do much other than put them down >___< There's also alot of ways to go wrong when dealing with birds <___< They're fickle little things. So, a qualified vet who specializes in birds is a must.

Being that it'd be an owl too, you'd have your work cut out for you. Birds need room to comfortably spread their wings and exercise them (i.e. fly). You'd likely have to have an outside cage for the owl (let's face it, a regular parrot cage isn't going to work xD), which means having a decent sized backyard. You'd need to provide them plenty of perches (and make sure they're not too small of the bird's feet!) and "safe places" for them to hide in. I would also recommend putting this cage so that at least one side is against something solid (like a fence or the side of a house). Birds feel more comfortable when they don't have to watch every angle of their cage for anything that might come after them. Giving the bird toys and such to help stimulate their mind will also lead to a healthy and happy animal ^__^

Corie wrote:[...] you have to trim the beak and talons every once in a while so they don't over-grow (probably best left to an avian vet or bird groomer)

LEAVE IT TO THE VET. You can shatter your bird's beak if you don't know what you're doing! :| And then you'd have to end the bird's life prematurely. Their beaks are more than just mouths to feed themselves with. They use it to clean their feathers, climb/move on perches, and explore their environments with. I don't know about owls, but, for "pet" birds (parrots and such), you can buy things like cuttlebones and textured perches to help keep your bird's beak and nails from being overgrown.



TL;DR: Volunteer at a wildlife bird sanctuary that has owls and other birds of prey first. Once you have gotten to know how owls work, then you can consider if getting an owl is the right fit for you! x3
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POSTED: Thu Jun 16, 2016 8:52 am

I'm gonna put my own word on this even though I've never personally worked in an animal sanctuary (just some big box pet store), but I see people talk about shit like this all the time (owning some non-traditional pet, usually a normally wild animal) and I have very strong feelings about this.

You have to remember whenever you say you would like a pet owl, wolf, alligator, etc etc that these are WILD ANIMALS. They are not meant to be pleasure pets, for whatever fad or whim you randomly have. They do not have centuries of domestication like dogs and cats, and they certainly aren't developed to thrive in captivity. It's one thing to work in a wildlife sanctuary, like Songbird, but I have the strong opinion that people should not own wild animals as pets. The "wolf/wolfdog" fad people have gets dogs and wolves killed because of the laws surrounding them and the safety issues involved. I can see the exception if you partake in things like Falconry, but still.

I have experience with snakes and reptiles, but I wouldn't willingly own something like a caiman or "hot" snakes because they'd be a cool thing to have/collect - since both require such special care, space, and I don't plan on doing educational work with any animals. There would be no reason for me to besides sheer will and money to spend.

I can't tell you what to do as an adult, of course, but I really implore you to reconsider the idea. Working in a sanctuary is an awesome alternative without having to "posses" an owl in any way.
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POSTED: Thu Jun 16, 2016 9:04 am

I have to echo what Songbird and Titmouse have said. Working with the sanctuary would be your best bet -- it would be so cool to be able to volunteer there.

While I love barn owls and owls in general, and coo at all the cute videos of them, I have had a terrible experience with a legally sold "exotic" animal that my parents purchased for me without my knowledge. This situation led to the animal's death because of its very specific needs (I take full blame for not fighting my parents on rehoming it; the animal's death is on my hands as much as theirs and the seller who insisted that that the small cage and pellets used to feed it were "okay") and I am overall very, very upset about the situation (it caused me considerable stress, and let me tell you -- dealing with a nocturnal animal in itself is a massive challenge).

I know where you live it is legal -- but legal does not always mean "okay," I guess? There are people who purchase other pets that are "legal" without realizing what they're getting into -- even if it's as "simple" as a parrot (which can outlive their owners and have the intelligence and temperament of perpetual toddlers).

This video might dissuade you, also, haha. <3 If you don't think you're equipped to handle that noise, it's probably not a great idea. ;D



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POSTED: Thu Jun 16, 2016 9:49 am

In addition, look into your state and county's laws -- not every place allows "exotic" pets, and many have bans on such a thing. Even if someone is selling them "legally", this may not be the case everywhere.
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POSTED: Thu Jun 16, 2016 3:39 pm

To all of you: you do have a point, so I'll clarify this.

First of all, I'm aware that barn owls are wild animals, and that keeping a wild animal captive is outright cruel, and illegal. Both are instances that only partially apply to this situation.

Now, I mentioned that my professor works in a Wildlife Maintenance Unit (UMA), one devoted to study, rescue and set free prey birds. They do have the adequate permits to do so, and have had little to no problems with law enforcement.

Now, the breeding pair, I investigated, was born in captivity and cannot live in the wild. Most of the offspring is kept the or sold or donated to organisations who do educational projects. However, sometimes a buyer comes along and decides to acquire an animal as a pet, and I can see the problem with that. Well, the chicks are already born in captivity and are dangerously familiar with humans (Mexico is one of the worst places to be an owl, let me tell you). The unit offers guidance on how to take care of the animal, from feeding to housing, and registers you as the owner of the animal in case that law has to step in. And that's what I'm planning to do.

I want to adopt a bird, of course learn how to take care of it, but not take it home. I have 4 dogs and a hedgehog, and a prey bird will be dangerous (plus a ton of ignorant people as neighbours). If I adopt it, the bird will stay there, in the UMA, while I undergo training in case that I later decide to move it somewhere else. Plus, the money I spend on the bird will help the research they are doing, and if it is possible, I can use and lend the bird for educationa talks in other schools, especially rural ones.

Don't worry, I'm not a poacher. Everything would be legal and the bird will still be taken care of. I can't link it right now, but you can check the SEMARNAT website (I think you can find it in English too) to find the laws under which this transaction would take place. And I can be held accountable in case that something goes wrong.

And this issue is not settled. I am still thinking about it. The UMA need resources but apparently they can get in legal trouble if they start accepting donations, especially big ones. The transaction seemed a fair deal.

Oh! And before I forget to mention it! I'm planning to volunteer for at least six months at this sanctuary before even talking about the purchase seriously with both my professor and my mom.
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POSTED: Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:59 pm

As a wildlife biologist who is dating a conservation biologist who has worked with birds of prey before, I would just like to add my two cents as well.

It is important to understand the difference between tamed and domesticated. Just because an owl is born in captivity, doesn't mean it is domesticated. It is simply tame enough to be handled. That does not mean it is safe to handle. I have heard many a story about people who work with raptors that got footed (aka, had their clothes/arms/face shredded by claws). I've known a falconer who's eagle (that she hand reared) broke every bone in her hand. Working and raising owls is inherently dangerous and you need to be prepared for that possibility should you chose to peruse adopting an owl.

I would also like to add another word of caution. I have worked in a sanctuary that housed wolves and wolfdogs that were once pets. It was not a pleasant place to be. Not for the humans. Not for the animals. Should you decide that having an owl is too much work or you can no longer afford it, the owl could end up in a location like the one I worked at.

Like everyone else has said, and you yourself have stated, working with these birds as a volunteer is an excellent idea. It will give you a more informed perspective on the needs of the animal as well as your own ability to handle it. However, I would recommend a much larger period than 6 months. Falconers spend years in training before they acquire their first raptor. I admit that I think it would be best to simply limit yourself to being a volunteer if you simply want an owl as a pet. But if you wish to become a falconer who devotes their life to working with and raising animal ambassadors, that is a worthy goal.
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POSTED: Thu Jun 16, 2016 9:25 pm

Well, ai actually am a little scared of the bird's claws. I by no means intend to become a falconer, I don't really have the patience nor the place to train one like that. It was mostly the thrill of taking care of a creature that is really stigmatised here. But I digress.

I think you are right, probably bringing a bird home will not be a good idea, nor handling it by myself. And yes, six months could be very little time. I still look forward to helping in the sanctuary, and hopefully learn a thing or two about the animals. Maybe even agree on some sort of compromise where I simply name and take care of the bird while helping there and nothing else. But thanks to all of you for your advice. I think I'm not ready for that sort of responsibility yet n.n' and Raze...I hadn't seen such a noisy individual before -.-
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POSTED: Thu Jun 16, 2016 10:13 pm

Taking care of animals in sanctuaries and professionally can be a lot of fun (and tiring too). I have a lot of stories about the wolves and wolfdogs, plus some new stories about the racoons, skunks, and foxes I work with at the rehabilitation center. ^_^ I'm sure you'll enjoy volunteering at the sanctuary.
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