ATHENA: barn owl
Athena was found in the Sutter Buttes near Yuba City, California, in June 2006. She was found at the nest site as a hatchling, suffering a right wing injury. In August, she was transferred to CRC. She is non-releasable both because of her wing injury and because she was imprinted on people. This means that Athena identifies with humans—she simply doesn't know that she's a Barn Owl or even, perhaps, that she's a bird. She is therefore not afraid of people and will boldly approach them for food. This can be dangerous not only for the bird but for people as well. Like all raptors, barn owls have very sharp talons and beaks.
For many years, Athena was a very popular Education bird for the CRC, appearing in both on-site and off-site presentations. However, in 2012 she injured a tendon in her leg; and although she recovered she can no longer work with a handler because she could easily reinjure herself. She lives in an enclosure in a quiet corner of CRC where she will not be disturbed. Every year, during the Spring, she lays a clutch of eggs and, though they are not fertile, she actively plays the role of "mom" for a few weeks, incubating and defending her "nest".
Barn owls in the wild raise as many as 15 to 17 young a year, each capable of eating more than a thousand rodents! We encourage farmers and ranchers to set up nesting boxes for these birds, to control rodents with out poisons.