Nine baby great horned owls -- rarely seen by the public in the wild -- are being treated at Washington State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital, the WSU News Center reported.
The young babies - five from one nest and four from another - are being hand-fed until they are strong enough to eat on their own, according to a story by WSU News Center's Linda Weiford. The first four were brought to WSU on April 13 at roughly 1-week-old. Just four days later, the second group arrived at only a few days old.
"We’ve had great horned babies before, but in 10 years I’ve never had any this young,” said veterinarian Nickol Finch, who oversees WSU’s Raptor Rehabilitation Center. "Pretty much all they’re doing is eating and sleeping.”
It’s rare for humans to get a glimpse of baby great horns. Their parents usually nest high up in trees and are aggressive protectors of their young. Considering the owls possess talons powerful enough to cart off animals five times their weight, most people are wise enough to keep their distance.
As for WSU’s nine owlets, the first four survived a fall to the ground near Colton after someone unknowingly cut down a tree where they were nesting, said Finch. The younger ones were brought to a veterinarian in Lewiston and then transported to WSU after their nest was destroyed inside a chimney during a home remodel.
And so, with help from Finch and WSU students who feed them three times a day, these fuzzy critters - weighing less than an avocado - will one day stand two feet tall and sport a four-foot wingspan.
With their fierce hunting skills, yellow cat-like eyes and tufts resembling pointy ears, how fitting that great horns are nicknamed "winged tigers.” Also consider that, perched atop a tall tree in darkness, they can spot rodents, rabbits and snakes. Additionally, they are one of the few creatures that prey on skunks, according to the website of the Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey, located in Boise, Idaho.