Sunday, September 28, 2008

Oh....CRAP!

Yesterday has to have been, in the four years I have been volunteering at Wolf Hollow, THE most interesting day I have ever had. And while I will regale with you with tales about the rest of my day in a future posting, I want this post to be strictly about the one activity I ended my day with, and that is the bathing of a Barn owl. And why did we have to bath a Barn owl, one might ask? Well, because it was found on Friday afternoon like this:

*Thanks for the use of the photo, Wolf Hollow gals!

You are looking at a Barn owl that has fallen.....somehow.....into one of the public pit toilets at South Beach (Be thankful....VERY thankful...that I cropped this photo). Of course there has been quite a bit of speculation about how he ended up in such a predicament. One theory was that he flew/dropped down the ventilation tube. Problem is, the ventilation tube runs down the outside of the building...

...and he would have had to have flopped around a bit to end up where he did and therefore would probably have been a lot....well...messier than he was. The only other explanation is that, even though the public is supposed to close the door when done, someone didn't, and he saw a rodent of some shape or form on the edge of the toilet, went to grab it, and missed, falling into it in the process.

So they waited a day to let him destress a bit and then decided to bath him on Saturday. Now, having had to give Barn owls foot baths before, I knew this could be QUITE the interesting endeavor, as just the slightest movement during the foot bath would set off minutes of hissing and moaning. So, because we had the Saturday super trio already dressed out in their most fashionable cleaning wear...

From left to right: Shona, Kate, and Jessica

...i.e. garbage bags, I stood back to capture this hopefully once-in-a-lifetime procedure. First, we need to set up the baths.

The two tubs on the right are bathing tubs and the empty one will be the rinse tub when filled. And yes, we did use Dawn as our cleaning agent.

Next, we need the star of our show. Yes, he was more than a bit reluctant to come out of his carrier, as you can hear, but pull him out Jessica did. Then, a worm bag was placed over his head and he was unceremoniously placed in cleaning tub #1.

And then the fun part begins; cleaning the...stuff....off of his feathers.

Trust me, if you smelled him as he was being washed, you would understand the faces some of the gals are making. He REEKED! But, one must persevere, so the wings got washed...

...and then his body was washed and.....stuff....was carefully picked from his feathers.

Then he was moved to the next wash tub.....

..and the whole process was started over again. We even broke out a toothbrush to help with the de-gunking of his feathers, especially those around his upper body and neck.

Ugh! You can see the....stuff.....all over the worm bag that we used to cover his head during most of the procedure. After they were sure that he was stuff-free, he was given a few, thorough rinsings....

..carefully towel-dried....

...and then placed in a crate, with a heat lamp nearby, to dry off.

The amazing part of this whole process is that, after his initial hissy-fit, he didn't make one peep. Not one! I guess being doused in warm water must have been either too overwhelming or very relaxing for him. I hope it was the latter.

On Sunday he was placed in the Slatted flight cage to make sure all flight systems were good to go.

*Thanks....again... for the use of the photo, Wolf Hollow gals!

He seems to be doing just fine and will be released back at South Beach sometime this week. My guess is, however, that he will be giving the pit toilet building a VERY wide berth! Til next time...

4 comments:

Kari said...

Poor baby! Especially the REALLY SAD BUT FUNNY picture of him trying to look all scary, when he really looks like a wet chicken! lol

icydol said...

:( Sad, I don't qualify as the Super Saturday Trio!

Shannon said...

Let's hope that is a once in a lifetime event! I can only imagine the stench. Ewwwww!

Abby Smith said...

Oh my goodness, Heather! That's absolutely incredible. Makes me so proud, once again, to be a human... right...

=)