FORREST: great horned owl
Forrest came to the California Raptor Center on April 14, 2015 as an orphan, brought in by a rescuer who had found him on the ground and kept him - illegally - for a couple of weeks. (Rescuers have a limited time to find a licensed rehabilitator or veterinarian who can give a rescued bird the proper care and food.)
We determined that Forrest was about 20 days old when he arrived, and in the time he was in captivity, he had imprinted on humans. Imprinting is a developmental process that occurs largely after baby birds have opened their eyes. They identify themselves with their food source – in nature, of course, the parent birds.
Being imprinted on humans means that Forrest is unable to be released; he probably could not successfully live on his own in the wild and might even approach humans for food.
From his first days with us, Forrest was very calm, indicating that he would make a good education ambassador for the center, coming out for audiences here and traveling to schools and groups to participate in CRC presentations. We fitted him with leather anklets and jesses and began the training process, working with a handler every day, learning to tolerate audiences and to sit quietly on the fist during classes.
Forrest quickly adapted himself to working with us, and has become popular with our volunteers and visitors alike. Great Horned Owls are immensely popular with everybody except rodents and other prey animals who are on these birds' menu!
Based on his weight and size, we believe that Forrest is a male. In almost all species of raptors, females are larger and heavier than males. His baritone hoots are also suggestive: in Great Horned Owls, the male's hooting calls tend to be deeper than the female's.