The Owl Box Project was excited to welcome a newly occupied owl box in Ballito to their occupancy database, and had been engaging with the property owner over the course of the breeding season on the progress of the owls.
Everything was going as normal until the owlets fledged. Then things did not seem right with the youngsters. They were picked up, and a trip to Ballito Vet revealed they were suffering from metabolic bone disorder. This is a nutritional deficiency that sees bone structure in particular not developing as normal due to a lack of essential minerals such as calcium. Instead of nice strong, robust bones, the bones become thin, frail and brittle, and break easily. While this condition is encountered regularly in incorrectly hand-raised animals, it is not seen very often in wild, parent-raised young .
We can only speculate at the cause. Perhaps it has something to do with odd weather conditions? perhaps something to do with an increase in pesticide use, or a build up of pesticides? perhaps a genetic condition?... the root cause could be any of the above, a combination of factors, or something we have not identified yet.
Regardless, examination of the owlets on admission revealed a malformed leg in the one, and very thin leg bones with very poor muscle development in both.
We have started the chicks on a whole food diet (rats, mice and day old chicks) supplemented with a vitamin and mineral mix. While we cannot undo some of the damage (like the malformed leg) we are hoping that since they still have some growing to do, that we can prevent further damage and strengthen their bodies.
A big thank you goes out to Odette, Christa and Colleen for their swift responses and assistance with the rescue of these youngsters. We appreciate you ladies.
We love what we do, and how we do it... ❤❤
If you have read this story and want to contribute to the care of these youngsters, you are welcome to donate through any of these channels:
First National Bank
Branch code: 220 725
Account number: 6214 1246 068
SWIFT CODE FOR INTERNATIONAL TRANSFERS:
And if you want to be more involved with our work on an ongoing basis, become one of our FreeMe Wildlife Custodians:
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