Great horned owls get new aviary

Three great horned owls at the Sanctuary get brand-new aviary. The aviary has nice 360-degree views and AstroTurf-covered ramps and perches.
By David Dickson

"Let's see. We’ve now got a big view of the sky, higher perches, and drop-in visits from our friends. So how about next year we shoot for a big screen TV with surround-sound and a popcorn machine on the side?"

The great horned owls at Best Friends are already planning their wish list for the next round of holidays. Namely because Santa came through this year and gave them a new place to live! You gotta dream big, right?

Three great horned owls

Nunu, Skydance, and Hilltop are three great horned owls who live at Best Friends—which is state and federally licensed to care for them—because they can’t live in the wild. None of them can fly. They’re an enchanting bunch, each with his own interesting personality. Nunu loves heights and jumps at any chance to dance in the snow or rain on one of his lofty perches. Skydance prefers to stay in a back corner somewhere, shying away from too much attention. Hilltop is the social butterfly who goes on outings with the bird staff to help teach people about wildlife. A deserving bunch, don’t you think? Seems like the big red elf certainly thought so.

New aviary for birds

Their Christmas present came in the form of a brand new, upgraded, all-metal aviary to call home. An even better aviary is planned down the road, but in the meantime this larger home allows for a full 360-degree view of the world around them (the previous wooden enclosure blocked a lot of their views). Scratchy green AstroTurf, which might feel a little rough on human feet but is actually great for owls, covers all the ramps and perches. By the evidence of owl "souvenirs" left on the topside of the shade cloth, bird caregivers can see that wild owls have been stopping by for visits. Wow! Who knew that owls threw housewarming parties?

Photos by Troy Snow

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