Life History of Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center’s Great Horned Owl
Carpenter Nature Center’s owl was obtained from a rehabilitation center in Nebraska in December 2004 as an adult . She was in their care because she was a “Human Imprint”. She is considered “unreleasable”.
Imprinting occurs when an owl chick is raised by humans instead of owls. Normally chicks form images of their future mate, their future competition and develop fear responses to people. Due to being raised by humans, the owl at Carpenter Nature Center sees humans as competition for nest sites, food and territory. She will viciously defend her area against humans, showing no fear of people. Contrary to popular belief, imprinted owls can hunt, however they pose a danger to themselves and humans due to their urge to fly at and attack humans who enter their territory. Unfortunately “imprinting” is retained indefinitely and is considered irreversible.
The Great Horned Owl at Carpenter Nature Center is a wonderful ambassador for her species, teaching thousands of visitors every year about our natural environment and the negative outcomes of trying to raise an owlet. CNC’s owl will live a very comfortable life with humans, as she is provided with all the food she needs, stellar medical care, and safety from predators.
If you find an owlet, keep cats and dogs away. Monitor the owlet from a distance as the parent may be close by but in hiding due to your presence. It is beneficial to contact the nearest wildlife rehabilitation center for further instructions. In our area, please contact The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota. Intentionally keeping and imprinting a wild owlet is against the law.