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Patient of the Week: 11/03/23

Great Horned Owl with Embedded Pellets

This great horned owl, found lying on her back and in distress, is now undergoing observation and rehabilitation on her way to recovery. After being brought to Tucson Wildlife Center, a visual exam revealed an entrance wound on the right side of the chest. A radiograph showed a metallic foreign body, consistent with a pellet from a pellet gun,  just left of the owl’s midline near the trachea and just above the heart. TWC veterinarians are currently thinking that surgery is too risky and hopefully unnecessary but are keeping a close watch on a fracture of the owl’s coracoid … a short, thick bone connecting the sternum to the shoulder, where the bullet struck.

This year, TWC has seen an increase in the number of birds admitted with embedded pellets, usually resulting in significant harm or death. TWC would like to remind the public that almost all birds, such as this great horned owl, are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. According to the Arizona Game & Fish Department (AZGFD), “it is illegal to harm, trap, kill or harass raptors, according to federal and state laws. The public is encouraged to anonymously report knowledge of a wildlife shooting to AZGFD’s 24/7 hotline, 1-800-352-0700.” (

If you would like to help patients like this great horned owl, please click the Donate button below.

Another way you can contribute is to visit our “wish list” on Amazon by clicking on the Amazon Wish List button below. We appreciate it, as will all the wild animals in our care!

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