A baby great horned owl fell out of a tree in Huntington Station on Monday morning, and wildlife rehabilitators built and put up a makeshift nest so the bird could reunite with his mom.
The owl, weighing about 570 grams, was on the street or sidewalk in front of a home when the two-volunteer team arrived — with his mom above in the tree, said Janine Bendicksen, the volunteers’ supervisor of wildlife rehabilitation at the Sweetbriar Nature Center in Smithtown.
"That mother is looking for its baby," she said.
Once the team determined that the owl hadn’t been injured, the two went about putting up the nest that Bendicksen had made at the center soon after getting the call. It’s the third such nest this year that rehabilitators from the nature center built in Suffolk County, she said. This owl was determined to have been born in February based on its size, about 10 inches tall, and would have become prey if it had been left alone, Bendicksen said.
"We use a milk crate, and then we put zip ties around the top where we attach pieces of wood, so the parents can land on it to feed the babies, and when the baby is old enough he can perch on the nest itself," she said.
Some 200 pairs of the horned owl — Bubo virginianus — live on Long Island, according to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens' website.
On Monday morning, the Sweetbriar center team had been summoned by the Suffolk County Police Department, whose officer responded to a 911 call around 8:40 a.m. to Nathan Place, according to an email from the police department’s press office. The department’s Instagram account posted about the owl, calling the episode "certainly a hoot!"
The owl, which had been in the backyard of the home, walked himself to the front yard, where the police found him, said Bendicksen.
With the makeshift nest made, Bendicksen said, "We take the nest, we go as high as we can up in the tree. … We put it up on the tree and then we bring the baby up, put the baby down, ask the homeowner to keep an eye on it" and if the parents aren’t seen returning, to call the center, so rehabilitators can raise the owl themselves at center. (The nest — and owl — were put in a pine tree behind the home.)
"In this case," Bendicksen said, "the parents were seen coming back, so it was a success story."