The Batchelor Falcon Bird of Prey Center at the Miami Science Museum is rehabilitating a rare visitor to the Florida skies. An injured short eared owl will be staying here for the next several weeks as it is returned to health before releasing it back to the wild. The short eared owl is an occasional visitor to Florida, but currently there are no known colonies of this majestic animal existing in the state.
In the past 20 years, we have only seen this species in our shelter twice. The first time was in 2005, when one was admitted with a punctured air sac (a special organ found only in birds and some species of dinosaur that allows them to breathe more efficiently). It recovered and was released three weeks later in Key Biscayne.
This Short-eared Owl was admitted to our center on Sunday March 18, 2007. He was found in Homestead with a severe pelvic injury, possibly from a collision. We performed all of the necessary initial assessment and treatments which included x-rays, blood analysis, fluid therapy and DNA samples. This short-eared owl cannot stand at this point, but we're hoping that he will will recover with rest, shelter and proper medical care.
Antillean Short-eared Owls are found on Caribbean islands, such as Cuba and the Antilles, and is a rare sight if spotted in South Florida. Because very little information about this species is available, we will take this opportunity to learn as much as we can to aid scientific studies and to improve the care for any new Antillean Short-eared Owls that are brought to our facility.
Antillean Short-eared Owls are voracious predators that hunt mainly at dusk and at dawn. They eat small rodents, birds, and insects that they catch an carry in their talons. They can cross hundreds of miles of open ocean as they search for food or mates. Known for their distincitve "voo-hoo-hoo-hoo" call and for their bright plumage, their scientific name Asio flammeus means "Flame-colored little horned owl". The Antillean Short-eared Owl is an occaisional visitor to Florida, but no colonies of them are known to exist in the state.