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Otis the Owl

Otis the Owl © Russ Amy

Otis the Great Horned Owl is well known in Central Alberta and has acted as MRWC's education owl since 2003.

He was admitted to the hospital at Medicine River Wildlife Centre when he was only days old. He had been found alone in the middle of a field. His nest and parents could not be located. Upon arrival he was hypothermic, but recovered quickly.

Most orphaned animals brought into the MRWC are placed with appropriate families of the same species, either back in the wild, or at the Centre. This is to ensure that they are raised correctly and will have the tools they need to survive on their own. Otis was the exception to this protocol.

It was decided that Otis would be kept and imprinted onto people for educational purposes. MRWC presents close to 150 education programs throughout Alberta. Otis has become an integral part of these programs and is an ambassador for all wild animals.

  • The Great Horned Owl is Alberta’s Provincial Bird.
  • They are found throughout most of North and Central America, even extending into South America.
  • They are the most commonly seen owl in this part of the world.
  • These owls are named for their prominent ear tufts which are merely feathers (not horns or ears).
  • Their plumage varies in colour. It can range from light grey to dark, chocolate brown, depending on their location. They do not change colour with age or season.
  • Owls do not see in the dark but do see well in low light. Even better however is their sense of hearing. One ear is set higher than the other, feathers are formed specially around each ear and they have a silent flight - all to enable them to hear their prey better.
  • Adult Great Horned Owls have no predators. Their biggest threat is humans.
  • Great Horned Owls will prey on a wide variety of species, including small rodents, hares, weasels, skunks, porcupines, bats and marmots. They also eat other birds and some reptiles. These owls will prey on domestic cats as well (another reason to keep pets indoors).
  • These owls do not build their own nests but take over old crow, raven or hawk nests. They usually lay 2-4 eggs which hatch in late April or early May.
  • These, as with many species of owls, stay with the same mate for life.

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