Laura Erickson's For the Birds

Friday, March 16, 2012

Archimedes!

I don't currently have a webpage for Archimedes, so this blog post will serve as an introduction to my licensed education Eastern Screech-Owl.

Laura and Archimedes

Archimedes came to me when he was 1 year old, in April, 2000. He had been brought to the Back to the Wild Wildlife Rehabilitation and Nature Education Center in Castalia, Ohio, when he was a very young chick. He was emaciated, covered with various abrasions on his delicate skin, and was close to death when some children found him. His problems originated with a blood parasite, and as he got sicker and became too weak to beg, he finally keeled over in the nest cavity, and his parents eventually tossed him out, probably thinking he was dead. The children who picked him up saved his life by quickly getting him to the wildlife clinic.

Few rehabbers feed baby owls anymore--the chicks are too likely to imprint on humans--so if the young owls cannot be placed in another nest with young of about the same age, the rehabbers entrust them to captive "foster parents" of the same speces. Unfortunately, Archimedes was so weak and needed so much attention that this was impossible, and he became hopelessly imprinted. When he was healthy and hunting successfully, they tried to teach him to fear humans, but that failed. It was a tragedy for him to not be able to live a wild and free life. I've tried to give him as wonderful a life in captivity as I can. But thanks to his being imprinted, he makes a splendid education bird because he's utterly calm when doing programs. I have both a US Fish and Wildlife Service and a Minnesota DNR permit to "possess" him.

Laura and Archimedes at the Minocqua Public LIbrary

Archimedes eats mice. I order frozen mice that come packed in dry ice. He eats one or two each day, depending on their size and his weight--I add a few dietary supplements to keep him healthy. When he's very hungry or the mouse is very small, he swallows it whole, but usually he lops off the head and upper shoulders in one bite, and then swallows the rest.

Archimedes

Archimedes

Archimedes

Archimedes

Archimedes

He calls at night--more often in spring and fall than other times of the year. Sometimes for no apparent reason he calls at mid-day, too. You can hear him calling without interruption for 2 minutes and 55 seconds (recorded on September 13, 2011) here.

Every summer he goes through a rather awkward molt.

Archimedes molting

Archimedes molting

Archimedes molting his eyelid feathers

I feel blessed to have had the amazing good fortune to be entrusted with this little guy for 12 years now--this spring he turns 13, meaning he's a teenager! The oldest known banded wild Eastern Screech-Owl lived to be 14 years, 6 months. I hope Archimedes breaks all the records!

An owl and his human


7 comments :

  1. What an insanely cute bird, I love the mouse-eating sequence. Glad he's still going strong in his old age!

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  2. Thanks, Laura, for this fantastic post. Do the females of his species have another way of calling than the males (cf. tawney owls: males have another caall than females)?

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  3. He is absolutely adorable!! Thanks for sharing with us.

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  4. Wonderful, Laura! I have never seen a Screech Owl. Thank you.

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  5. What a lovely little fellow you have there. It is great that he has given a wonderful education opportunity to humans, and it is great that you have given him a happy life!

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  6. Hi Laura, I saw your presentation to the Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis this spring and wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed it. I never knew just how interesting Owls are, and Archimedes was really neat!

    I'm glad you share you're awesome blog with us too. Keep up the great work!
    http://palmerlakepark.blogspot.com/

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  7. how old did Archimedes get to be ?
    sincerely

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