Recently we once again met with Arizona Western College (AWC) professor and veterinarian Cecilia Vigil to discover the progress of the great horned owl brought there for rehabilitation.
Originally it was thought that the owl, named Bubo by Dr. Vigil’s student, TJ Mulligan, had been stung by a giant hairy scorpion; but later diagnosis indicated it had been struck by a vehicle, possibly while eating the scorpion. Its fate depended on preparing it to eat on its own, as well as helping it restore strength in its drooping right wing.
Since the last time we viewed the owl, it has been moved to an outdoor aviary on AWC’s campus and is actually flying on its own. “This is one of the last steps before release,” said Dr. Vigil. “It’s like physical therapy.”
As we entered the aviary, Bubo flew from his perch to the other side of the enclosure where he grabbed the bars with his talons and climbed to the top. “He’s getting stronger little by little,” said TJ, who has been caring for Bubo. “He flies all around the cage.”
However, at this point, Bubo is still being force-fed. And occasionally, according to TJ, he refuses food. “We’re still looking at time with him,” said Dr. Vigil. Plans to help Bubo include placing live mice in the exhibit to entice him to eat on his own. It’s also possible that at one point another great horned owl will be introduced into the habitat to demonstrate owl behavior.
While the pupils of Bubo’s eyes are now dilating and constricting, one pupil appears larger than the other. “It’s not as bad as it used to be,” said TJ. But the owl definitely has some damage to his neural system.
“If he can’t hunt, he can’t survive,” said Dr. Vigil. “Unless he can demonstrate that, we may have to request an educational permit. At this point, I wouldn’t consider putting him down.”
If he cannot be released, however, Bubo’s future depends on locating a facility that needs an education animal that may have to be force-fed.
TJ Retrieving Bubo
TJ and Bubo:
Bubo Using his Wings: