Roving Reporter | "Wings Rescue Center Hatches an Owl" by Jeanette Larson

Newly born barn owl (Photo courtesy of WRC)
Riggs emerging from the egg (Photo courtesy of WRC)
On September 6, 2018 Wings Rescue Center received a call from members of a refinery fire crew in Annaville. The firefighters saw a barn owl abandon her nest during a fire and they were willing to bring the nest and eggs to Wings if the group could take them. Because the Rockport-based rescue group had successfully incubated killdeer eggs earlier in the year, they had the equipment and volunteers to accept this challenge. Although five eggs were in the nest, only two actually hatched. Miraculously, named Riggs Gute in honor of two of the firefighters, hatched on September 29 at about 5:00 a.m. Volunteer Verba spent the night at the Wings Rescue Center to be there to document the hatching and help the chick, if needed.

Barn owls are medium-sized owls that have a distinctive, ghostly face. They nest and roost in abandoned barns and other buildings and in cavities and dense trees. They hunt at night by flying low over open areas searching for small rodents. At night, Barn Owls hunt by flying low, back and forth over open habitats, searching for small rodents. Usually the female lays 3-8 eggs, which will hatch after a month. It is not uncommon to have several eggs not be viable. Barn owls are common to our area throughout the year.

Wings Rescue Center, which was started in April 2016, had to obtain special permission from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, to attempt to hatch the eggs as the center does not hold a permit for raptors. After Riggs was a few days old, he was transported to the ARK in Port Aransas. Wings Rescue Center is currently raising funds to build the raptor flight cage necessary before they can obtain the raptor permit. Wings Rescue Center is a volunteer-run non-profit (501 c 3) organization that rescues and rehabilitates from Aransas County and surrounding areas. It is also the only bird rehabilitation center in the Coastal Bend that will accept eggs and orphaned babies. Whenever possible, rehabilitated birds are released back into Aransas County. Donations for the raptor flight cage can be mailed to WRC, Box 1912, Rockport, TX 78381 or through the organization's website,

Riggs enjoying a meal (Photo courtesy of WRC)

Barn Owl (image courtesy of Creative Commons)

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