I also love great horned owls. Magellan and Hedwig are so special to me because of the fierce looks and hoots they can produce when I go to get one on my glove. But another special spot was created in my heart when I recently took Rio to a program at the Casa Grande Ruins in Coolidge, Arizona. Rio is a zone-tailed hawk, a species considered uncommon and only found in the southern parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas in the United States. In Arizona, zone-tailed hawks are often found in riparian areas, which is where Rio was found as an “older nestling.”
Rio arrived at Liberty the summer of 2007, having fallen from his nest, suffering a broken a leg. His cere was so badly injured that he now has difficulty breathing at times. A well-meaning rescuer tried to care for him but did not provide him with the calcium he would have gotten in the wild from whole prey such as mice and birds. So, his bones did not form properly, and by the time he was brought to Liberty, it was too late to correct the folding fractures. Rio healed but could not be released. He became an Education ambassador for conservation and now travels well and even tolerates all-day programs. Rio is beautiful, despite his condition. I use a photo that I took of his tail with the black and white zones for the wallpaper on my computer screen.
But back to the program at the Casa Grande Ruins where I took a photo of him sitting on my glove with the Ruins as a backdrop: Rio looked as if he was one with the surroundings, and I was so touched by his nature that I could only wish that he could fly over the Ruins and be in the wild where he belongs. I have to say that Rio is my favorite bird.