It’s Renesting Season!

March 15, 2022

The von Arx Wildlife Hospital is located and part of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Open 365 days a year from 8 am – 8 pm. Call 239-262-2273 for wildlife assistance.

Two eastern screech owls and a black vulture were among the fifty animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week. Other admissions include a Florida snapping turtle, a bald eagle, a common gallinule, a red-tailed hawk and a Florida red-bellied turtle.

Renesting Fundraiser

Interested in donating to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital to help with renesting season? Please see our Facebook Fundraiser. No Facebook? Donate to our website.

Two Eastern Screech Owls

The two eastern screech owlets were found on the ground in a yard in Ft. Myers after they fell from their nest. The people who found the owls reached out to a rehab facility in Lee County for assistance, but never received a call back.

After four days passed, they went online searching for help and found the von Arx Wildlife Hospital. After speaking with hospital staff, they immediately brought the owls to the Conservancy for care.

The owlets’ rescuers did their best to care for them, but the babies were dehydrated and malnourished when admitted to the wildlife hospital.

Since the two owlets received an improper diet for an extended period of time, offering too much food too fast would have added further negative effects on the owlets’ health. Hospital staff limited the type and amount of food offered even though the owlets were frantic to eat at every feeding. 

Two eastern screech owlets peer out from their “nest box” after being fed. A family from Ft. Myers found the owlets on the ground in their yard.

By the fifth day at the hospital, the owlets’ had noticeably gained strength. They no longer required any dietary restrictions, were well hydrated, satiated after each feeding, exhibited calm behavior and were no longer frantic when fed. The owlets continue to recover in the nursery at the von Arx Wildlife Hospital and we look forward to their renesting.

Thankfully, the owlets’ rescuers continued to seek help for the two baby owlets after their first calls for assistance went unanswered. It is important keep wild animals wild.

All wild animals have very specific nutritional and husbandry requirements (exceptionally important when dealing with young babies) that are difficult for a novice to replicate in a captive situation.

Joanna Fitzgerald | Director of Von Arx Wildlife Hospital

Equally important to understand is the fact that it is illegal to raise orphaned native wildlife without appropriate state and federal permits.

Black Vulture in Cage

Getting the black vulture admitted to our facility required the help from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). The call for assistance came in to the wildlife hospital from a woman reporting she had rescued a vulture found under her car the previous day. Hospital staff asked the woman if she could transport the bird to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital for care, but she said the vulture was in a large outdoor cage and could not be caught for transport.

The information regarding the status of the vulture raised concerns. Hospital staff called FWC to respond to the situation. An FWC officer investigated the circumstances, retrieved the vulture and brought it to the wildlife hospital for care.

Accurate details from the FWC officer upon arrival to the Conservancy revealed the vulture had actually been kept for seven days before the ‘rescuers’ called for help.

A physical exam showed the vulture was emaciated, its feathers were covered in feces and its left wing was fractured at both the wrist and elbow joints. Humane euthanasia was the only option due to the amount of time that had passed before receiving professional care and the severity and location of the fractures.

If there is any doubt, please know, all animals feel pain and suffer. Imagine your arm was fractured at the wrist and elbow, the fractures weren’t stabilized with a cast or sling and you received no pain medication for an entire week. Considering that scenario still doesn’t equal the pain and suffering the vulture endured; add in the fact that being in a cage added stress for the vulture at a level none of us could possibly fathom.

The cruelty of the situation was reprehensible and inconceivable.

Please, if you find an animal you believe is injured, sick or orphaned, do not attempt to care for it yourself.

Wild animals require care from professionals with experience and knowledge working with wildlife. Call our wildlife hospital immediately; staff will do everything possible while keeping the animal’s well-being our top priority.

Added Thanks

The von Arx Wildlife Hospital received a donation of towels and linens from the Marco Lutheran Church from their rummage sale this past week. Every donation helps and is sincerely appreciated.

Also, thanks to Rusty Thorn with Golf maintenance at Treviso Bay. Rusty provided access to the preserve on short notice allowing a wayward gopher tortoise to return home with minimal interruption. Returning animals where they were found is a requirement of our state permit. It is often very difficult due to security measures at gated communities, so having support from staff at these communities ensures native wildlife can return to their home territories.

Recent Releases

Two gopher tortoises, an eastern cottontail, a royal tern, a northern cardinal a white-tailed deer, an eastern screech owl and two raccoons were released last week.

Opportunities to Help

Please visit our website at and learn about opportunities to get involved.

The start of our busy spring baby season is quickly approaching; volunteer help is essential for us to care for the influx of baby animal patients we will admit to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital.

If you are unable to give of your time as a volunteer, become a member or donate. No matter how you choose to become involved, be assured your support allows the Conservancy to continue to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future. 

Joanna Fitzgerald is director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Call 239-262-2273 or see