A Young Owl’s Passing

Great Horned Owl, Christopher Schwarz

In Hyde Park, Austin, the neighbors along a wooded alley have been enthralled with the birth and maturation of a Great Horned Owl.  Last week, the owlet passed away and one of the neighbors reached out to Travis Audubon seeking guidance.

The resident wrote, “Sadly the baby died yesterday and I don’t know what to do with him/her. Perhaps someone at UT in the biology department might want to do an autopsy to find out why he didn’t make it or taxidermy him. He is so magnificent even in death.”

We were very sorry to hear of the loss of the owlet.

The first year of life is brutal for most birds. There are a myriad of reasons why the owlet did not survive, but the most common natural reasons after getting through the fledgling phase is from starvation or an accident. Human caused reasons may have included electrocution and poisoning. Perhaps the owlet ate a rodent that had been poisoned. Another alternative could be the West Nile Virus, although we hadn’t heard of its presence much of late. We advised the resident to give UT Austin’s Integrative Biology Department a call to see if they would like to add the owlet to their collection. They may also have other suggestions. Another thought was to get in touch with the Texas Ornithological Society to see if they can point to an accepting entity.

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