HOP Raptor Rescue & Reunite
Each year some unfortunate baby owls, hawks and other raptors fall from their nests. Sometimes blustery spring storms blow the nest down completely, sometimes the chicks are attacked by other predators and sometimes careless tree work is the culprit. We work carefully with a large group of dedicated and experienced volunteers to return healthy baby raptors to their parents as safely and swiftly as possible.
Our primary process involves an initial medical exam at WildCare, a renowned wildlife hospital and our partner organization, a complete site assessment to assure that a safe reunite is possible, nest monitors to watch the nest before and after reunites to make sure everything is successful and of course, the actual reunite of baby raptors and parents, which requires both a ground team and tree climbers. If the nest is blown down, we can often wire a substitute wicker basket into the tree to function as a nest. We’ve had great results reuniting raptor families this way.
HOP's Raptor Rescue & Reunite program started in 2002. Each year we rescue, reunite or find foster care for many young hawks and owls for an estimated total of 700 birds.
Whenever possible, reuniting baby raptors with their parents will give them the best chance to learn the essential skills required to survive in the wild. For orphaned barn owls that cannot be reunited, we have a very successful foster program including a community network of nesting boxes and human foster parents that care for the owlets until they’re independent.
Click HERE to learn what to do if you come across a fallen or injured young raptor.
When a worker opened a delivered shipping crate full of hay bales in Half Moon Bay, he was surprised to find 6 Barn Owl chicks staring back at him, hungry and frightened. Animal Control was called and after a medical check up, the owlets were transferred to the Hungry Owl Project. Here you can see them in their new foster box where they will be hacked out (slowly released). HOP volunteers will discretely feed them each night until they are able to take care of themselves in the wild.
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One Barn Owl chick came from a rescued egg, that was then incubated and hatched in Redding, CA and the second came from an unsafe situation in Nicasio, CA. Both have been added to a foster box in Novato, CA that is being cared for by Hungry Owl Project Volunteers. The two of them have succesful together and are currently at the "brancher" stage (where they spend much of their time outside of the nest in trees). HOP Volunteers will continue to feed them until they are ready to hunt entirely for themselves and move on into the wild. For a more complete story, please visit a blog post by our friends at Wildlife Emergency Services by clicking HERE.
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A Red-Shouldered Hawk nest was destroyed after a palm tree was cut down during nesting season. Initially only one chick was found near the downed tree and was taken to WildCare, our local wildlife hospital. A subsequent visit to the site, found a second chick, also from the destroyed nest. After a check up determined that they were suitable to be returned to the wild, we immediately began planning for a reunite with their parents.
At this time we learned of a 3rd chick, an orphan, from a separate region. The orphan was just about the same age and size as the first two and it was decided to include that chick during the reunite. While it is possible for humans (trained humans of course!) to foster and slow release orphaned raptors, there is no better substitute for growing up with real Red-Shouldered Hawk parents and siblings. We have had success in the past with situations where an additional chick was included in a reunite.
Since the original tree and nest were destroyed, we secured a substitute wicker basket nest with nesting material in a tree near to where the original palm tree was. In the above video you get a "point of view" perspective of the volunteer tree climber, high up in the tree, helping us place the chicks into the substitute nest. Volunteer monitors kept a close eye on the nest for several days afterward to verify that the parents found the new nest, accepted the additional chick and continued to feed and care for them. Fortunately, that is exactly what happened!
Please Help Our Rescue Program
The Hungry Owl Project and our Raptor Rescue and Reunite program are dedicated to protecting all birds of prey. We are a growing group of devoted volunteers, but WE NEED YOUR HELP. We are always in serious need of funding to continue this program. Please help us continue this mission by making a tax deductible donation today. Help us preserve that magic that inspires us to look up to the trees. These magnificent birds are invaluable as a part of a healthy ecosystem and their continued presence depends on us all.