Wild At Heart

Foster Parenting

Sometimes a bird rescue involves saving the eggs at a nest site. One of the best ways to be sure that the eggs will be properly cared for is to enlist a "foster parent." Of course, the foster parent must be willing to accept the eggs as her own. Wild At Heart has a pair of Barn Owls that cannot be released but are healthy enough to raise a family. Sadly, the mated Barn Owls have a genetic problem that produces young with a serious eye problem. The eggs produced by the mating cannot be allowed to mature. However, if the original eggs are removed and a plastic egg is substituted, the female Barn Owl will accept the plastic egg. In the photograph above, the mother Barn Owl is protecting her plastic "egg" from the intrusion of the photographer. Typically, eggs will be discovered that need to be rescued, and the real eggs can be swapped for the plastic egg. In this way, a bird of prey that cannot be released back to the wild can help raise many young birds that can be released. The bird pictured here has been a foster parent to more than ten broods that have been released back to the wild in Arizona.

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