Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Meet Farfel

The next time you visit the World Bird Sanctuary take a stroll down the Display Line (the path that takes you past the Wildlife Hospital) and meet Farfel the Eastern Screech Owl.

Farfel’s story is a little unusual.  He was released—twice! 

Farfel was admitted to the Wildlife Hospital in 2006 because someone noticed an owl that seemed to be unable to fly—at least not long enough to gain any altitude.  Upon admission we found no obvious injuries and it was thought that perhaps he was simply weak from hunger and merely needed supportive therapy to regain his strength.  (This is the case with many of our admissions).

Farfel was held in our hospital for a short time for observation and fed a diet of tasty mice.  When it was obvious that he was eating well and had no internal injuries or illnesses he was released into a flight cage to give him the opportunity to build up his flight muscles.  After several weeks it was decided that he seemed fit enough to be released into the wild.  The big day came and he was released, only to fly a short distance and then flutter to the ground.  It was obvious he was still unable to fly well enough to survive in the wild. 

Farfel was recaptured and returned to the flight mew for some additional exercise time.  In the flight cage he appeared to be able to fly with no problem from perch to perch and from the perches to the ground and back.  These are not the long distances he would have to negotiate in the wild, but this physical therapy usually is what helps get all the rehab birds fit enough to be released back into the wild, with a great chance of surviving for years.  He was carefully watched by our staff for signs of any other problems; however, he seemed healthy in every respect. 

In the flight mew he appeared to be flying normally, so we decided to give him a second chance at freedom.  He was again taken to the release site and lofted into the air—only to again fly for a short distance and flutter to the ground.  He was again brought back to the Wildlife Hospital.  After a very in-depth evaluation by our vet it was finally determined that Farfel has a very slight deformity of both wings that inhibits his ability to sustain flight or gain enough altitude to be a successful hunter. 

We wanted so much to return Farfel to the wild, but the safest decision was for him to remain at the World Bird Sanctuary as an Education or Display bird. 

Our Wildlife Hospital treats between 200-300 injured, orphaned or sick birds each year.  A large percentage of these are released back into the wild.  Our success rate is one of the best in the country.  Even though Farfel’s story was not the final outcome we had hoped for, he will help to raise awareness about his species and about the time, effort and work that goes into returning a raptor to the wild.

Farfel is available for adoption, as are all the other creatures that call the Sanctuary home.  To adopt Farfel Click Here

If you would like to sponsor a Return to the Wild, for yourself or as a gift, Click Here  for more details.  If you have questions you may call (636) 861-1392 or email credfern@worldbirdsanctuary.org

Submitted by Gay Schroer, World Bird Sanctuary Volunteer/Photographer


Sandra said...

I've seen Farfel but didn't know who he was or what his story was. That's one thing I'd wish for -- name labels (like up at the VIC)for the display line mews that tell us who we're viewing. Some are identified in their signage and others are not.

Thanks for sharing Farfel's story.

WBS said...

Hi Sandra - we're working on standardizing our signage throughout the site, with a balance between life history and natural history without making the signs to long to read. There are comprehensive files in our nature center and visitor information center where all the birds' life histories can be found, too!