June 24, 2004
CONTACT: Mike Stepanovich, 661/664-2456 or mstepanovich@csub.edu

A juvenile great horned owl that has been raised by the staff at California State University, Bakersfield’s Facility for Animal Care and Treatment (FACT), will be released Monday at 10 a.m. at the Environmental Studies Area on campus.

The young owl is one of four hatchlings from a nesting female who picked CSUB’s Science Building II for her nest, said Marlene Benton, FACT coordinator. “The owl ended up on the ground about six weeks ago, and was found by Public Safety officers trying to walk into the building. They picked it up and brought it to us, and we’ve been trying to raise it ever since.”

Benton said the four baby owls hatched on March 15, and that typically after the babies fly the nest after a few weeks, “Mom continues to feed them for another three to four weeks, but when this owl was found trying to walk into a building, something’s wrong. It left the nest and didn’t do well. So we just helped it past that point.”

Great horned owls are found in the San Joaquin Valley and typically live in oak trees or on a flat spot on a cliff, she said, adding that they feed on mice, rats, squirrels and rabbits. “This nest on the Science Building was a wild nest,” she said. “The owl just happened to pick the building for her nest.”

The young owl to be released Monday has reached adult size, about 18 inches high with a 4-foot wingspan, she said.

Benton said she and students working at FACT tested the owl’s ability to live on its own this week, and it did well. “We let it fly in the field by FACT attached to a line on a fishing pole, and it did great,” she said. “So it should be able to take care of itself. It will be fun to see what it does when we release it Monday.”

For more information about the release, or about FACT, please call Benton at (661) 664-3167.