What Is Something You Won’t Ever See Again?
Albino Barred Owl
In over 20 years of Dr. Cherney’s work and over 30 years of Linda Nebbe’s wildlife rehab work, neither woman has seen an albino owl. Albinism (having a lack of pigment) in wildlife is rare. This is a true treat to be able to work with such a beauty. Whooo knows when we will see something like this again.
What We Know
Our albino owl was acting strangely and in the middle of a street. Animal control was called. He was easy to capture and was suffering from a neurological issue. Cedar Falls residents who have been watching this group of owls reported him eating something right before acting sick so we are guessing he consumed something he should not have.
Animal Control transferred the owl to the Black Hawk Wildlife Rehabilitation Project and he has been under their care for a few weeks now. When Linda Nebbe, a licensed wildlife rehabber, started to tube feed the bird and rehydrate him, he bounced back immediately. He has no visible injuries and is doing quite well.
According to local residents, this Albino Barred Owl and his 3 typical looking siblings were born early in 2014. They are nesting in the central Cedar Falls area. Because the bird is small for his age, he is most likely male (males tend to be smaller than females).
What Are the Concerns?
After Dr. Cherney’s physical exam of the owl coupled with the wildlife rehabbers’ observation, the owl is rather healthy! His eyesight initially was of concern as poor eyesight and sensitivity to light can be a problem in animals with albinism. Fortunately, this fellow does not show any physical problems.
Dr. Cherney said she could see so clearly into the eye in this case because of the unusual nature of his pigmenting. If he is sensitive to light, owls are nocturnal (meaning most of his activity will be at night) so this should not be an issue. He is a little underweight, but that will get back to normal under the care of the rehabbers.
Dr. Cherney’s main concern was his feathering and feather development. Right now they seem a bit thin and that could be due to age or nutrition. She wants to see what happens in time. If the feathers develop properly, they should suit him just fine for protection in the winter.
What Is Next?
The Albino Barred Owl will be kept with wildlife rehabbers for observation and care. He will be allowed in a flight cage soon to see how he flies. If that goes as expected, he will then be placed with other owls to see how things go from a social perspective as well as to compare him to typical Barred Owls. He will also be observed for how well he is able to hunt on his own making sure his eyesight is indeed fully functional. With time, nutrition and careful observation, we are hopeful that this beautiful rarity will thrive and be able to be released back into nature.