Why is it important to identify and age an owlet accurately?
When you find a very young owl or ‘owlet’, it’s important to be able to identify and age it accurately, because what species it is and how old it is will dictate the correct course of action. For example, healthy Tawny Owl owlets can be left alone whilst healthy Barn Owl owlets must be replaced in the nest. Certain individuals may also need rehabilitation depending on the circumstances.
Find out whether to pick up a fallen owlet.
How do you identify an owlet?
People who are licensed to handle wild owls can tell how old they are by taking measurements. Here’s an easy guide for everyone else:
|don’t look old enough to leave the nest||do look just about old enough to leave the nest||identical to adults in appearance|
|no, few or not fully-grown ‘proper’ feathers||mostly-feathered appearance||fully-feathered|
|downy or ‘fluffy’ appearance||still some wispy down on feathers, typically on the top of the head/between the legs||no down|
What should I do if it’s in trouble?
If the owlet that you have found shows signs of injury or starvation, or you are advising someone else who has found an owl, please refer to the following pages:
- Picking up a live owl.
- How to check for injuries.
- Should I pass it on?
- Finding a local rehabilitator.
- Short term care for a wild owl.
- What to do if you find a young Barn Owl
- What to do if you find a young Tawny Owl
Chapter 9 of the Barn Owl Conservation Handbook provides a lot more information on owl rehabilitation.