A Glimpse at Barred Owl Veterinary Care

October 8, 2007 | Marilyn Johnson

At first glance, you may not be able to tell that the picture above is a Barred Owl wrapped up in a “towel burrito”, but take a good look and you can see her head sticking out of one side! You might also notice the small scale underneath the Owl, as she is actually being weighed. Wrapping large birds into towels is an easy and effective way of handling them so that they cannot flap their wings and injure themselves.

We weigh our Barred Owls every week, but the veterinary care for them does not stop at just measuring weights. Our Raptors must be coped once a month to help keep them healthy. Coping is a technique that is used to trim their beaks and talons. It is necessary for captive Raptors to be coped because they do not have access to the same variety of food and environments that would normally keep their beaks and talons filed down in the wild. If we did not cope their beaks, they would become overgrown and deformed, and make it difficult for them to eat.

A small dremel is used to file back their beaks and shape them properly. This is the equivalent of us filing our nails so there is no pain involved for the bird. The picture below shows the same Barred Owl getting its beak coped, which occurred right after it was weighed. We do veterinary procedures that are needed for our Barred Owls all at once to cut down on the amount of handling and potentially lessen stress on the bird. For the Keepers, this is just one of many cool and interesting tasks that is associated with our job!

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