PULLMAN, Wash.—Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine teaching hospital has seen an increased number of animals brought in due to problems with below-freezing temperatures. Among the hardest hit appear to be eastern barn owls, which are found commonly in eastern Washington.
“We’ve had two brought to us in the past 48 hours,” said Heather Brurud, a second-year veterinary student.
A young female owl, nicknamed “Schneider” for the man who found her, was discovered lying in the road. Her feet were injured with advanced frostbite.
“Unlike the great horned owls that have protective feathers on their feet, barn owls are unprotected,” said Brurud.
The other owl, nicknamed “Gregg,” was found in Palouse with similar cold injuries. Both birds are being kept warm and given plenty of food.
“It’s too early to know how well they’ll do in the long run, but we’re hopeful they might one day be released,” said Nickol Finch, who heads up the Raptor Rehabilitation Center at WSU.
A check of records from 2007 reveals four eastern barn owls were treated by WSU veterinarians and volunteers for cold-related injuries.
The WSU College of Veterinary Medicine opened Phase 1 of its refurbished raptor center facilities over the summer, thanks to generous donations. The veterinary college treats 100 or more birds of prey annually. As many as possible are rehabilitated and released back to the wild.
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