Two eastern screech owls rescued from ground and renested with mother

April 11, 2024

Two eastern screech owls were among the ninety-five animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week. Other admissions include a black racer, a northern flicker, a wood stork, a great blue heron and two Brazilian free-tailed bats.

A woman and her daughter noticed two owlets on the ground when out on a walk. The daughter was concerned and arranged some branches around the babies in a makeshift nest. The woman called the wildlife hospital the next day.

Hospital staff were incredibly concerned for the owlets when they received a text with a photo and saw the young helpless nestlings. Staff encouraged the woman to get the babies safely settled in a box. The woman was unable to find a box, so the owlets remained on the lawn while hospital staff worked to find a volunteer to help with the rescue.

A photo texted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital shows two nestling screech owls on the ground after falling from their nest.

The two eastern screech owlets were in decent condition when admitted despite being on the lawn exposed to the elements for two days. The owlets were so young that their eyes were still closed. They were also vocal and ravenous.

Staff placed the owlets in a warmed animal intensive care unit to raise their body temperature before offering any treatment or food. Once warmed the owlets received electrolytes and a small amount of food. Due to their young age, the owlets required multiple feedings throughout the day and night.

Renesting the Owlets

The following day, the owlets looked strong with no signs of injury or trauma from the fall so hospital staff reached out to the gated community for permission to install an eastern screech owl box with the hope that the adults would return to their babies and resume care.

Getting permission proved tricky since the gated community had stringent security protocols. Just gaining approval to install the owl box required multiple phone calls to various levels of management and each time hospital staff emphasized the immediacy of the situation. If too much time passed, the parent owls were less likely to return. Finally, approval was granted.

The owlets received one last meal before leaving the hospital to be renested. Security guards escorted a hospital staff member to the renesting site and were thrilled to be part of the process. They had never seen or handled such small helpless creatures. 

Hospital staff checked the nest box at dawn the following morning and found the owl mom in the box with both her babies tucked safely under her body. To say staff were relieved the renesting was a success would be an understatement. The two owlets endured so much and were incredibly lucky to have survived sitting out in the open for two days. It is pure joy knowing they are back with their parents growing up in the wild.

A cell phone picture captures the image of an eastern screech owl in the nest box with her two owlets. The owlets, found on the ground, were reunited with their parents after receiving two days of care at the von Arx Wildlife Hospital.

Please don’t delay in calling the wildlife hospital if you find a baby animal in need of assistance. Our professional staff will help you assess the situation to determine whether the baby is truly in need of help.

If the baby animal is in imminent danger or it’s after hours and the von Arx Wildlife Hospital is closed, place the baby on a soft towel or blanket in a ventilated box and keep it warm and quiet until you can reach a hospital staff member.

Do not offer any food or water. Baby animals are incredibly delicate, attempting to feed or offering water can cause significant health issues. The sooner an animal receives professional care, the better the chance it will survive.

Recent Releases

A hooded warbler, a double-crested cormorant, four mourning doves, an osprey, a marsh rabbit, two gopher tortoises, and a great horned owl were released this past week.

Opportunities to Help

The von Arx Wildlife Hospital is very understaffed while seeing a large influx of animals each week due to breeding season. Please get involved and become a volunteer. If unable to give of your time, support the Conservancy and become a member, donate and visit our website at Learn about the Conservancy’s work to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.

Joanna Fitzgerald is the Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, 1495 Smith Preserve Way, Naples, Florida 34102. Call 239-262-2273 or see