Owls in Towels (or Bird Burritos)

One way that the Animal Keepers keep track of an animal’s health is to monitor its weight. So, how would you get a barred owl to sit still on a scale? Keeper Sarah demonstrates her method. Note: these photos are a composite showing the steps, but with different individuals of our 4 barred owls. Do you see any difference between the owls?

Animal Keeper Sarah carefully removes the barred owl from the exhibit by grasping its talons. She works carefully so the bird is not too stressed.
Sarah places the owl carefully, on its back, onto a clean towel (which we have already weighed).
Note how Sarah holds the owl to keep both the owl and herself safe.
Keeper Sarah carefully makes her first fold of the towel around the owl so that it cannot fly away or struggle.
Keeper Sarah finishes the "burrito wrap" around the owl.
With wings and talons safely folded inside the towel, Keeper Sarah can now place the owl on the scale.

Of course, not all our owls are as large as our barred owls. Keeper Marilyn shows how she weighs the much smaller Screech Owls!

Keeper Marilyn carefully places the Screech Owl in a plastic carrier.
Instead of a burrito, we have Owl-in-a-Box! But the goal is the same, to get an accurate weight of the owl.

How much do you think the barred owls weighed? The towel weighed 189 grams (about 7 ounces). We subtracted this from the total weight to get the true weight of each owl. The lightest was 705g (24.8 oz or about 1.5 lbs) and the heaviest was 1,188g (about 42 oz, or 2.6 lbs).

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