when Papa has an
enclosure full of
chicks that he is
teaching to keep
away from humans.
Imagine a row of
owls—one Papa and several
puff balls—all clacking and puffing! Without
his paternal instincts, most of these chicks
would not be able to make it in the wild.”
At one time, the rehabilitation special-
ists at the center thought Papa was a Mama.
At first, they called their injured owl Mama
G’Ho! (“G’Ho” stands for great horned owl).
It’s not easy to know if a great horned owl is
a male or a female, but usually females are
larger than males, and Papa G’Ho was big,
so the assumption was made.
But when the new Critter Cams were
installed, center staff discovered a clue that
Mama G’Ho was really a male. In the wild,
great horned owl parents raise their young as a
pair. The mother owl sits on her brood, while
the father brings her prey. The mother tears
the food into small portions and feeds it to her
chicks. At the wildlife center, Mama G’Ho
wasn’t doing that. The parent owl was bringing
the food to the owlets and dropping it in front
of them. The wildlife center had DNA testing
done and discovered that Mama G’Ho was
actually a Papa! A name change was in order.
Mama G’Ho became Papa G’Ho.
Over the years, Papa G’Ho has been a
surrogate father to at least thirty owlets like
#16-0097. Almost all of these young owls,
once they have passed “mouse school,” where
they learn to hunt live prey on their own,
have been released back into the wild. It was
the first of November, around the time most
baby owlets leave their parents, when owlet
#16-0097 was released, right near where
it was found.
Now, thanks to Papa, that little
ball of fluff is a mighty tiger of
Did You Know?
The eyes of the great horned
owl are too large to move
in their sockets. Instead, an
owl can twist its head 270
degrees to the left or right
to see what’s around it.
Did You Know?
The pupils of an owl’s
eyes can dilate to almost
the full diameter of its
eyeballs, giving owls
keen night vision.
Whooo’s there? Papa
and two young owls on
the alert for humans