Two weeks ago we learned that the great horned owl that had been stung by a giant hairy scorpion had been transferred from raptor rehabilitator Dr. George Montopoli, professor of mathematics with Arizona Western College (AWC) in Yuma, to Dr. Cecilia Vigil, doctor of veterinary medicine and biology professor also at AWC. Recently we met with Dr. Vigil at the college to be briefed on the owl’s progress.
“Is that the same owl?” Chuck asked as he peered into the crate that had transported the owl from Dr. Vigil’s home.
Dr. Vigil assured him that it was, indeed, the same bird. TJ Mulligan, Dr. Vigil’s student who has cared for the owl for several weeks, named him “Bubo.” As she donned a glove and transferred Bubo from Dr. Vigil’s gloved hand to her own, TJ held the owl and allowed him to calm down.
“He’s very gentle and doesn’t bite,” she told us as Bubo widened his eyes to stare at us.
“I assess animals and come up with a prognosis,” said Dr. Vigil, who then recruits her environmental science and biology students to help feed animals. At this point, care administered by TJ involves merely feeding the owl, letting him rest, and keeping him clean.
When we last saw this owl, his eyes were squeezed shut. A couple weeks ago, Dr. Montopoli told us that the owl was probably blind in one. But now Bubo’s eyes are both wide open and the pupils are dilating. “His right wing droops,” said Dr. Vigil, “but he flaps both wings. He doesn’t have a lot of grip in his right foot.”
Originally the diagnosis indicated that Bubo had been stung by a scorpion. But now it appears that he may also have been struck by a vehicle. Muscular weakness, according to Dr. Vigil, is traveling down his right wing. Whether it retreats or not remains to be seen.
The greatest concern for Bubo and his caretakers right now is getting him to eat by himself rather than force feeding him. If he eats on his own and if his muscle weakness disappears, he could be released. If he eats on his own and his muscle weakness remains, he could be used as an education animal. If, however, he never eats on his own, he will have to be euthanized.
When we check back with Dr. Vigil in a few weeks, we hope to learn that Bubo is eating without being force fed…………….