Category: wild birds


On the night of July 6, 2022, a young spotted owl lost her footing and tumbled from a tree in Bangaluru, a big city in south India. Perhaps she had been startled by a group of songbirds that sometimes harass these small owls at twilight.

This was in the Basavanagudi section of the city, an old, very charming area with beautiful temples and colorful markets. Passersby, seeing her fall and remain lying on the ground, rushed to her rescue. She didn’t seem to be able to get up by herself and looked like she needed help.

One of these good samaritans knew just where to take her. They picked her up very carefully and rushed her to the WRRC – the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre. The well-known wildlife center is located in Bannerghatta Forest, south of Bangaluru.

When they arrived, the little owl, just eight inches in height, was turned over to Dr. Roopa Satish, the Chief Veterinarian and Wildlife Rehabilitator and her capable assistants. They take care of hundreds of orphaned and injured wildlife every year, with the goal of releasing them back to the wild.

They noted immediately that she was a juvenile with her soft, fluffy, downy feathers still present. She was stressed, dehydrated, and no doubt wondering what was happening to her. She weighed 100 grams. Dr. Roopa examined her very thoroughly, noting that her right wing had an injury. There were no broken bones, but she had fallen from a great height and that could result in organ damage. She might have internal trauma.

For fifteen days, she was on medications, kept warm with heating pads, and handfed in order to coax her to start feeding on her own.

Since owls are nocturnal, she was fed in the evening. During the day, she was left completely undisturbed, in complete darkness and quiet – to have a chance to recover in peace.

She improved markedly, and within a month after arrival, she was much brighter. Her wing wound had healed, her appetite was good, and she was eating on her own, which was a joy to see.

Moved to a larger aviary, she was able to begin to practice flying again.

Her caregivers had made sure that she had a lot of hiding spaces so she could be completely hidden during the daytime, only coming out during the night. She was so well hidden that sometimes they even wondered if she might have escaped. But the presence of down feathers shed on the floor and her empty plate of food were clear signs that she was right there and doing well.

In the fall, as was normal, there were continuous heavy rains, so she couldn’t be released just yet.

Finally, on the night of December 1, 2022, she was released in the presence of the forest officials who had been specially invited to come to the center at dusk to witness the release.

She flew up vertically, effortlessly taking off like helicopter from the basket, which was placed on the ground, and disappeared into the fading light.

An innocent being gone back to the wild, thanks to the caring and expertise of the WRRC, and the wide circle of those who help in so many ways.

Photo credit: Photo 32814694 / Spotted Owlet © Panuruangjan | Dreamstime.com. This is another spotted owl.

© Copyright Forest Voices of India, 2022

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