I have delayed this post long enough. Despite epic efforts in rehabilitation and enticing live mice meals, the Raptor Center has decided that Ned is "...not releasable but he has a proven track record as a parent so we will keep him as a surrogate."
Some of the RaptorMed documentation includes:
On ground and refuses to fly.
Could only get to fly once and then started to defend on the ground. Right leg severely droops when flying.
Only got him to fly 2x. He went to the ground and did not recover. Grabbed and tossed twice but always returned to the ground.
Could only get him to fly to the other side and landed on the ground. He was defending self and was stressed.
Upon x-ray-fracture is very stable. Range of motion is good. Fracture is completely healed.
I spoke to Rob last night who went to see Ned. He is clueless as well. We can speculate like news talking heads that a)Ned is just lazy and prefers the easy life b) there is something we are missing or c) he is just old and sore. Owls have been known to do strange things. Two years ago, we were feeding Ned a live mouse every Sunday night and then, he just quite coming. Who refuses a free, tasty, easy meal? The male choses the nesting site (and once they move in, they come back every year) and Ned and Nellie seemed very happy in our luxurious nesting box but the next year, they chose a different place and last year, another place.
The good news in all of this is that the Raptor Center is going to keep Ned as a baby daddy. He has fathered at least 20 owlets that we know of and although he is not terribly efficient-Nellie and Ned fed their babies an equal amount of prey but Nellie would find something in 15 minutes whereas Ned might take over an hour-he is a proud daddy and very vocal. An owlet that is injured needs to have an adult around to show them how to be an owl. In addition, we have been able to raise almost $3000 for his care and he and Nellie are featured on the owl forest trail at the Raptor Center so notoriety is worth something.
The other sad news to report is that one of the Ned and Nellie's babies was hit by a car and killed instantly. This happened on Queens Road at the Lutheran Church. Elizabeth Rostan was kind enough to call me so I went over and got the baby off the road. It is such a sad job. When you see them up close you realize what majestic birds they are. Their feathers are works of art. Their talons are sharp vises that catch and kill on contact. We are their only predators. They have tunnel vision when they going after prey and never see the car coming.
December starts courting season so Nellie will be returning hoots to who she considers eligible men. She is an experienced mom and wife so will chose wisely. There are several males in the neighborhood and beyond. My hope is that a new male will find our nesting box and chose it for their home.
Thank you for your interest and donations. Please sign up for the Raptor Center emails. There are many activities scheduled for the rest of the year that will interest many of you.