Aoife (Moon Pie)
Finney is a powerful adult male Great Horned Owl. Finney was raised in captivity to be a falconry bird. Owls are more challenging to train than hawks or falcons and most parent-reared owls do not respond and remain essentially wild. Falconers wanting to hunt with owls, prefer to work with hand-reared, human imprinted owls. These owls respond well to their trainers but should never be released. They missed the opportunity as young birds to learn the skills needed to live and survive among their own kind and may continue to approach people putting both themselves and the people at risk.
The falconer who trained Finney was no longer able to work with him in the field so a new home had to be found. Nikki was thrilled to take him! In our programs, you will see clearly how his behavior differs from Scarlett's due to his imprinting.
Midge is an adult male Red-Tailed Hawk. Midge was hit by a car as a juvenile and suffered injuries on the right side of his body. Owl Moon Raptor Center took excellent care of him and he is now able to fly normally. Unfortunately he remains blind in his right eye. A hawk with only one good eye doesn't have the depth perception he needs to capture prey, easily loses sight of prey that flees to his blind side and is more likely to fly into obstacles. His chance of survival in the wild would be slim.
Midge has responded well to falconry training. He is well behaved and a joy to watch. Although he will never be a champion hunter, this training has allowed to spread his wings and do many of the things he would do naturally in the wild giving him an excellent quality of life.
He remains very shy around people but will become more comfortable over time. The name "Midge" doesn't seem like it would suit an awesome bird like this red-tailed hawk but it was given to him by Owl Moon and somehow seems just right.
Aoife (pronounced ee-fah) is a captive bred barn owl. Nikki adopted her at 8 weeks old to begin training as a falconry bird. Her name means "beauty, radiance" from the Gaelic work aoibh. In Irish mythology, Aoife was a warrior princess, in some legends, the fiercest woman warrior in the world. It's the perfect name for this beautiful little bird of prey.
Female barn owls are usually more colorful than males but Aoife's face is a bit darker than most barn owls in our region. That makes her a bit unusual.
At Secret Garden Birds and Bees, we try to adopt birds for falconry that are flighted and healthy but non-releasable. This gives the birds a good quality of life and allows them to do many of the things they would do in the wild. These birds come to us from wildlife rehabilitators. Barn owls rarely come into rehabilitation. While that may seem like a good thing, the reality is that we rarely see them because the population has declined dramatically due to loss of habitat and other factors. There are few left in Northern Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC. Captive breeding, installation of next boxes and educating the public about threats to raptors in general and barn owls specifically are making small gains in stabilizing local populations of these very beneficial birds.
Little Red is a juvenile Red-shouldered hawk. As a fledgling, he was attacked by a predator - possibly an owl or larger hawk. He has recovered from his injuries except for permanent damage that left him blind in his left eye. Hawks need good vision in both eyes to survive in the wild so he can't be released.
Adult red-shouldered hawks are among the most beautiful and colorful of all birds of prey. Little Red's plumage is still the streaky, muted plumage of a hatch year bird. He'll replace these dull feathers with his striking adult feathers next summer in his first molt.
Like Midge (aka Big Red), he'll be trained for falconry and allowed to fly free to hunt. As a falconry bird, he'll have a very good quality of life as close as possible to a wild bird.
Red-shouldered hawks are very vocal and Little Red is no exception. He makes his presence known with his loud kee-ahh call - usually repeated many times. I think everyone within a few miles can hear him. He has certainly attracted the attention of a local pair of adult red-shoulders who return his call and circle over his enclosure. As an education ambassador for his species, I'm sure he'll have a lot to say!
Dr. Finnegan Who
Scarlett is an adult female Barred Owl. Barred owls are common in Northern Virginia. They often hunt along roads, looking for the small mammals that are drawn there trash discarded along the roadsides. Since they hunt at night, drivers have little warning before an owl appears in their headlights and then it's too late. Like most owls that come into rehabilitation, Scarlett was hit by a car and suffered multiple injuries. She was well cared for by Owl Moon Raptor Center but the growth plate in her beak was permanently damaged. Her beak will never grow straight and without frequent trimming she would be unable to eat. In all other ways she is a strong, healthy owl. As a falconry bird she will continue to get the trimming she needs and, as her training proceeds, she will be able to fly and hunt. But she will always remain in captivity.
Midge (Big Red)