Teen Owls

The teen years can be the toughest. You’re kinda feeling like an adult, but you’re still very much a kid. Independence seems just within your grasp, and yet — although you hate to admit it — you still want Mom and Dad by your side.

Well, that just about describes our fledgling barred owls: they are just learning to fly, but they still need us to provide food and shelter for them. And like teenagers, boy do they eat!

You may remember this owlet trio from an earlier blog post. All three owls came from separate owl nests — all falling out too early, and all unable to be re-nested. So we’re playing Owl Mom & Dad here at VINS, and we’ll continue to care for these youngsters until they are able to fly and hunt on their own. Their last few weeks here at VINS will be spent in our flight cage, where they can really perfect their flying techniques, and where we will offer them live mice to practice hunting.

Soon, these birds will fly the coop, and the staff here will suffer a bit of empty nest syndrome. But with new baby birds coming in nearly every day to the VINS Wildlife Services department, we won’t feel lonely for long. Lucky us : )


  1. Barbara on June 4, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    Teen owl – I'm wondering if I saw one last evening, about 5:00 pm on a roadside in Charlotte, VT? The bird was quite large and blocky, had the dished eye face with yellow eyes and a yellow beak. The bird was an ivory color all over its head and neck; I didn't see the rest of the body because it was standing in a tall fern thicket. We looked at each other for a long time. The head and neck that I could see clearly looked a bit like lambs wool was covering it, all kinda a little fluffy, and it had 2 small ear tufts. I'm not making this up! I wondered what this Owl was doing at this hour standing on the ground? I thought it might be hurt, but 2 hours later i passed by this site again and it was gone. I searched the internet for clues but didn't see any pictures of the animal I saw. Maybe a Great Gray Owl juvenile? Please help me to identify this gorgeous creature!

  2. Meghan on June 5, 2010 at 2:36 pm


    Hmm. Well, if the bird was large and had ear tufts, it was likely a fledgling great-horned owl. They are more of a buff color when they are young, and can be VERY fluffy and wooly-looking. Great gray owls and barred owls don't have ear tufts, so it couldn't have been either of those.

    Try doing an image search on the internet for "fledgling great-horned owl." Here's an example: http://robmckayphotography.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/greathornedowl-fledgling.jpg

    Fledgling birds (whether raptors or songbirds) are often seen on the ground. They are still learning to fly and are often on the ground, but close to mom and dad (who will feed them on the ground if need be).

  3. Barbara on June 5, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Thanks for the info, Meghan. The link you suggested provides the best match for the bird I saw that I can find. The wooliness is right on, although I'd say the color of the bird I saw was a tad lighter. I imagine there could be variation in color due to the lighting, or even the individual animal. I do remember a yellow beak, however. Could this be possible?

  4. Meghan on June 9, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Yes, you are right that the colors of great-horned owls can vary. Some adult owls come into our care at VINS and have a lot of black overtones in their feathers, while some are really brown. Even the baby barred owls we are currently caring for vary in color slightly.

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