When you look up at this cute little owl all wrapped up with his bulging eyes, it makes your heart melt. But weighing owls in blanket burritos is actually a common practice by researchers and vets.
The photos above come from the Raptor Center Clinic at the University of Minnesota. The veterinary clinic was treating the Saw-Whet owl for a ꜰʀᴀᴄᴛᴜʀᴇᴅ ᴘᴇʟᴠɪs sᴜsᴛᴀɪɴᴇᴅ during its Fall migration in 2013. Vets weigh animals for the same reason doctors weigh you: It helps them keep track of your health. ‘The specially designed wrapper makes these wriggly little patients easier to weigh,’ said Miranda Taylor, of the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Centre.
So why the blanket? Well as you can see, even ɪɴᴊᴜʀᴇᴅ owls are squirmy little dudes. This owl has a broken wing (awwww), but even then he doesn’t like to be restrained. If you don’t wrap the owl up, there’s no way it’s going to stay put on a scale. What’s more, their wings are strong and their talons are sharp so they could potentially ʜᴜʀᴛ you or themselves in close quarters.
Saw-Whet owls are tiny, but larger birds like the barred owl also get the blanket treatment, as we learn in this post from the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, North Carolina. The Saw-Whet owl is one of dozens of her diminutive species treated at the centre each year.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be a towel. It could be a box, or any container of known weight. We’ll stick to the adorable method, thanks.