A Pint-Sized Patient

This little guy is a northern saw-whet owl. One of the smallest owls in North America, the saw-whet is a pint-sized raptor who can be found year-round in Vermont. A typical saw-whet is a mere 8 inches from the tip of its tail to its head, and weighs less than 3 ounces – equal to the weight of about 3 slices of bread!

This particular saw-whet was treated for a broken leg and a wounded wing. The tip of the bird’s wing was nearly torn off, so it was removed as it would not have healed properly on its own. The bird was also started on antibiotics to help prevent infection. His broken leg was initially splinted and wrapped by a local vet who first took in the owl, and we have since removed and changed the wrap to check on the bone’s healing process. As you can see from the photos, the owl’s wrapped leg doesn’t look too much different from how a human’s leg might look with a cast.

So where did this fellow come from? Well, the owl was found sitting on a road in Stockbridge, VT in late January. When we find an injured bird on the road, we can usually assume it was hit by a car. Collisions with cars account for 20% of the injured birds VINS receives each year. Raptors, such as the saw-whet owl, are often drawn to roadways. Unfortunately, people throw food out of their cars, drawing in mice and other rodents. With rodents come the raptors, who prey on these critters for food… and you can imagine what happens with cars whizzing by.

For now, we’ll continue to monitor the owl’s leg and foot sore, and be sure he’s eating well.


  1. Anonymous on January 12, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    I love birds so much, especially saw-whet owls, so i think what your doing is just awesome and I'm sure if the little guy could talk, he would say thank you.

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