Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Meet Riggs Gute!

Meet Riggs! He (or she) is a barn owl. On September 6, 2018 a refinery fire crew called us about five barn owl eggs they found. Because we had been successful in incubating killdeer eggs, we agreed to take the eggs. Only two were viable, and sadly one chick died almost immediately after hatching. But...Riggs survived! He's named for two of the firefighters who brought him to us.

Riggs emerging from the egg
Barn owl eggs take about 30 days to hatch but we didn't really know how fresh these eggs were. Volunteer momma, Verba, kept careful watch and when signs indicated the first egg was likely to hatch, she spent the night at the Center. Riggs was born at 5:00 a.m. on September 29. A second egg hatched a few days later but the chick was not strong enough to survive. Because WRC is not permitted for raptors, we had to receive special permission form US Fish and Wildlife Service to keep the eggs. As agreed, a week after Riggs was hatched, he was taken to the ARK in Port Aransas to be raised.

Newly born
Why couldn't we raise Riggs in Rockport? Since our start in April 2016, Wings Rescue Center has rescued 31 raptors. Because we lack the permit to keep them here, they have been transferred out of Aransas County to Port Aransas or North Padre Island. Why can't we get a permit to raise and rehab raptors here? We don't have the appropriate flight cage needed for the raptor permit. A raptor flight cage needs to be big enough to accommodate physical therapy for recovering birds, allowing them to fly to strengthen their wings. It also has to have room for prey-testing, ensuring that the birds can capture live prey to feed themselves in the wild. Our cage will need to be about 12' by 32' and about 14 feet high. It also has to be constructed of wood slats with no material that raptors can get their claws into. While Wings Rescue Center has other flight cages, they are not suited for raptors.

Example of a raptor cage
It's estimated that the appropriate flight cage will cost about $5,000 including $2,000 for materials. While we are seeking grants, donations to fund this project are also needed.  Donations can be mailed to WRC, Box 1912, Rockport, TX 78381 or through the DONATE link on the right side of this page. All donations are tax-deductible as Wings is a 501 (c)3 organization.

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