Animal rescuers from Duluth had to go to great lengths – or, more appropriately, great heights – to help save a young great horned owl chick this week.
Wildwoods Wildlife Rehabilitation posted the story on Facebook, saying a woman named Kelly found the owlet on the ground Sunday in Ashland, Wisconsin, and brought him in.
The chick was fine, so they fed and hydrated him. And while there, he even got to snuggle up next to a stuffed animal owl, making for one of the most adorable photos you will see this week. (It's to keep the baby owl from imprinting on a human.)
There's also video of them feeding the baby from behind the stuffed animal owl.
Posted by Wildwoods on Tuesday, April 18, 2017
After looking after him, Wildwoods asked Kelly to put him in a man-made nest as high up as possible in the tree he was found under.
"Usually, this is enough, and the parents will care for their chick in this new, lower nest. But not always..." Wildwoods wrote.
Instead, the owlet looked completely unattended to – there were no droppings in the nest, meaning he hadn't been fed. And Kelly hadn't seen the parents around.
So Kelly took the owlet into her home, warmed him up and gave him raw chicken, and the next day bird expert Dave Evans made the drive out there to help. He climbed 45 feet up the pine tree to the family's actual nest, pulled the baby owl up, and put him back with his siblings. All while the parents were distracted by some crows.
"Thanks to Kelly and Dave (and all of you generous animal lovers who support our work through donations and membership!) for making this happy ending possible!" Wildwoods said. And of course the center has more photos, so make sure to check those out here.
Wildwoods is a nonprofit that gets no state or federal funding, and relies entirely on donations and volunteers to operate. The organization's goal is to get sick, injured and orphaned animals back to a point where they can be returned to the wild, while also serving as a resource and education center for people to learn more about animals.
Great horned owls
Great horned owls are pretty big birds of prey, with pretty big appetites – the DNR says they're one of the few animals that will kill a skunk, and can eat 4,000-plus mice every year. They're located all throughout the state, including in rural areas and cities. They've adapted well to humans, the DNR says.
Though not so well you can just do whatever you want around them.
There's actually a nesting family in Minneapolis' Lake Hiawatha Park right now. And the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has gated off the tree they're in, and asks people to stay back, don't climb the tree, and keep your dog on a leash.