After a week, staff members allowed themselves to be more positive about the prognosis as he made it through the most trying week. He was being tweezer fed mice, putting on weight, responding to care all around. Then, it was realized there was a vision problem. Heartbreaks all over again! We cannot release owls with severe bad eye sight.
The new problem made us question many avenues. Do we keep him? But we already have two non-releasable barred owls. We can try to find him a home at a zoo or sanctuary. But we have been down this road before, Barred owls are a common species and everyone already has them. Also, we need to know the exact extent of the vision impairment - completely blind creates a whole new set of issues. You simply cannot place him in a mew (raptor cage) and expect him to find food he cannot see.
Over the next couple weeks it was also realized he was most likely a she! The weight had gone up to over 800 grams. Female raptors are always the larger of the species and 800g is a safe bet on female. We also started manning her (process of acclimation of bird to human handling on a glove). This was when the discovery was made! Heart designs throughout her tail feathers.