Buddy: Great-Horned Owl

Buddy is a Great Horned Owl

A good samaritan found Buddy by the side of a road and brought him to CRC in 1994. Our veterinarians found that Buddy was emaciated, and X-rays revealed a fractured wing, which did not heal properly. In the wild, Great Horned Owls are silent and powerful hunters; they also need to defend their territory, and to escape from the attacks of mobbing birds such as crows. For these activities, they need strong flight and full wing extension. Without these attributes, Buddy is non-releasable.

For several years Buddy shared a cage with another Great Horned Owl, "Clacker," our California Hall of Fame bird, seen and admired by so many visitors. As Clacker aged and neared retirement from the education program, it became clear that we needed to train another Great Horned Owl to share the job. So Buddy began the "taming"* process and quickly learned to stay calm "on the fist."

Buddy has become an excellent educational ambassador. He is presented to many tour groups that visit CRC, and also travels off-site to schools, clubs, and other wildlife educational events. He is very popular with crowds. Audiences of all ages enjoy learning about raptors and their needs when Buddy is there, with his big yellow eyes and elegant "ear tufts." Sometimes he even obliges with a loud "hoo."

* Taming is the process of teaching a bird to stay perched on your gloved fist. The bird is fitted with special leather bracelets around the ankles, to which jesses, a swivel, and a leash are attached. This equipment keeps the bird from flying away or from injury if it should become agitated.

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