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Owls

All Owls:

  • are vertebrates. This means they have a backbone or spine.
  • are “endothermic” or warm-blooded. Endothermic animals can regulate their body temperature, allowing them to live in a variety of habitats on Earth.
  • are covered with soft, soundless feathers allowing the owls to sneak up on their prey.
  • regurgitate pellets containing hair, exoskeletons and bones of their prey.

Baby the Barred Owl

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Baby came to Blandford in 2011 after being abandoned by her parents due to her having juvenile cataracts in both eyes. While her cataracts have since cleared up, she still does not have 100% vision and has also become dependent upon humans to take care of her.

Bart the Barred Owl

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Black Bart was brought to us after being hit by a car in 2010, leaving him blind in his right eye and now has permanent brain damage. With these injuries, he is unable to hunt and survive in the wild.

Barred Owls are “sit and wait” predators. They will perch on a tree branch and scan the forest for any movement of prey. In Michigan, the preferred food choice is deer mice, but they also eat voles, squirrels, and the occasional amphibian or small bird.

Barred Owls prefer densely forested areas with large trees for nesting and live mostly on the eastern side of the United States and Canada. The Barred Owl can live in a variety of habitats as long as there are enough trees and open areas for hunting.

  • Barred Owls help keep nocturnal small mammal populations in check.
  • The Barred Owl gets its name from the horizontal banding or “barring” pattern around the neck and upper breast area with vertical barring found below.

This species is a year-round resident in Michigan. Currently, there are no threats to Barred Owl populations but instead, their numbers have actually been increasing.

Katherine the Great Horned Owl

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Katherine was found on the Blandford’s east loop trail in 1991 suffering from a fractured left wing.  The wing did not heal properly, leaving her unable to catch prey or escape predators. Great Horned Owls mate for life, and every once in a while Katherine’s mate from the wild will visit and bring her gifts in the form of small rodents!

Great Horned Owls are the deadliest hunters in the owl family, hunting from perches near open areas. They eat mainly small mammals (including skunks), as well as birds, snakes, amphibians, fish and other species of owls!

Great Horned Owls prefer forests with clearings, croplands, woodlots, meadows, riparian woodlands. They also like wooded areas around suburban parks, landfills, and town dumps.

  • Like most owls, Great Horned Owls help keep nocturnal small mammal populations in check.
  • The Great Horned Owl is the only animal known that regularly eats skunks!

This species is a common year-round resident of Michigan. There are currently no threats to this species.

Luna the Barn Owl

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On July 4, 2011, this female Barn Owl was found in Clarkston, Washington with an injured wing that impaired her flight. Later in August of 2012, she was transferred to Blandford where she is cared for by our wildlife staff.

The majority of the Barn Owl’s diet is small mammals, however, they will take fish, reptiles, other birds, and some insects.

This species prefer open lowlands with some trees including farmlands, plantations, and various forest types.

  • Barn Owls don’t hoot the way most other owls do; you can listen for their harsh screeches at night.
  • Barn Owl females are somewhat showier than males. Females will have a more reddish and more heavily spotted chest. The spots may indicate the quality of the female.

The Barn Owl is currently an endangered species that is legally protected in Michigan. According to wildlife biologists, Barn Owls are extirpated from Michigan, meaning they are extinct from the Michigan region. Barn Owls have become extremely rare in Michigan as farming practices have changed and abandoned buildings have become fewer and farther between.

Burt the Long-eared Owl

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Burt was hit by a car in Grant, MI and brought in to Blandford Nature Center in 2008. The accident caused permanent damage to his left wing. He can hardly fly and would not be able to survive on his own.

These owls eat mainly voles, deer mice and other small nocturnal mammals. Long-eared Owls also eat small birds, reptiles and amphibians. They tend to catch their prey in their talons while in flight.

Long-eared Owls prefer conifer forests but will also nest in deciduous trees. They also require open grassy areas nearby with lots of prey items for hunting. Long-eared owls use abandoned nests or dense vegetation as nest sites.

  • Long-eared Owls do not actually have long ears on top of their heads; those are just tufts of feathers. Their actual ears are located under the feathers for protection.
  • During the winter, these owls roost together in groups of 10-20 in wooded areas.

Long-eared Owls are a state threatened species. Loss of hunting habitats such as old fields and open lands to urbanization as well as destruction of forest patches cause threats to the population.

Mr. Bean the Northern Saw-whet Owl

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Mr. Bean was brought to Blandford in 2009. He had flown into a window at the Caledonia High School, resulting in permanent soft tissue damage to his left wing. Mr. Bean can hardly fly, making it impossible for him to hunt for food and escape predators in the wild.

They mainly eat small rodents, like deer mice but they will eat young chipmunks and baby squirrels. They eat insects often during the summer and occasionally eat small birds that are awake at night.

Northern Saw-whet Owls inhabit coniferous and deciduous forests. Northern Saw-whet Owls nest in old woodpecker cavities and they can nest in natural cavities as well as nest boxes.

  • During the winter, Saw-whet Owls will actually catch extra food and hang it in trees to freeze for a later day when food is scarce. When they are ready to eat the frozen food, they sit on it until it is thawed and then dig in.
  • The Saw-whet Owl is the smallest owl in Eastern America.

Saw-whet owls are a common species in Michigan but are not often seen due to their secretive nature. Currently, there are no known threats to this species.

Dr. Hoot the Eastern Screech Owl

We got Dr. Hoot in 2018 after he was hit by a car in Indiana and acquired permanent damage to his left wing. He needed a new home and care so our wildlife staff took him in permanently.

Dr. Whoo the Eastern Screech Owl

Dr. Whoo came to us in 2012 after he was cut down out of a tree by a chainsaw. After being cut down from a tree, staff found that two of his toes had been amputated and part of his wing had been severed. Dr. Whoo wouldn’t be able to survive in the wild with his injuries.

Their diet includes a wide variety of prey items. They eat large insects, such as moths, crayfish, earthworms, amphibians, reptiles, small mammals and small birds.

Eastern Screech Owls can live in just about any habitat below 1500 meters of elevation.

  • Most Screech Owls mate for life.
  • Unlike other owls, this species has symmetrical ears which may suggest that they have superior vision and hearing.

The Eastern Screech Owl can be found in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula throughout the year. There are currently no serious threats to this species.