Rarely seen by the public, baby great horned owls are being treated at Washington State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital, and it’s hard to believe that the nine palm-sized puffballs with curious yellow eyes will grow into fierce raptors of the woods.
The young babies - five from one nest and four from another - are being hand-fed until they are strong enough to eat on their own. The first four were brought to WSU on April 13 at roughly one week old. Just four days later, the second group arrived at only a few days old.
"We’ve had great horned babies before, but in 10 years, I’ve never had any this young,” said veterinarian Nickol Finch, who oversees WSU’s Raptor Rehabilitation Center. "Pretty much all they’re doing is eating and sleeping.”
It’s rare for humans to get a glimpse of baby great horns. Their parents usually nest high up in trees and are aggressive protectors of their young. Considering the owls possess talons powerful enough to cart off animals five times their weight, most people are wise enough to keep their distance.