Species: Eastern Screech Owl (Megascops asio)
Hatch Date: Unknown
Gender: Trayne (red), Female and Otus (gray), Male
Reason for Captivity: Trayne - Wrist issues from presumed train strike; Otus - Limited vision from presumed car strikes Weight: 0.3 lbs. (Average Weight of baseball)
Joined TRC Team: 2018 (Trayne) and September 2017 (Otus)
Otus was injured in central Alabama and treated at the Alabama Wildlife Center in Pelham. We are unsure whether a car or window is to blame, but either way, the head trauma sustained by the collision left Otus with limited vision. Trayne was suspected to be injured by a train in Alabama, leaving her with issues in her right wrist that limited her flight. Unable to return to the wild, their new job is to teach and help us appreciate the roles that raptors play in the ecosystem, no matter how small they are! Trayne was named after in honor of Meg and Bert Raynes, two treasured conservationists of the Jackson Hole community, and TRC's previous red phase Eastern Screech Owl Rayne, who passed in 2018. Though the Eastern Screech Owl has since been separated from the Old World Scops Owls (Otus) into the Megascops genus both appear to have origins and meanings related to being "eared" or having ear tufts.
Photo Credit: Rebecca Bredehoft
“Small in Size - Mighty in Message: Thank you for your service, Rayne”
When people meet our resident raptors we often hear the question “How long will that bird live at TRC?”.
Our responses vary... sometimes, we quote average life expectancy for the species (larger raptors generally live longer than smaller ones). Sometimes, we highlight the fact that raptors tend to live longer in captivity than the wild.
... and, sometimes we answer with the simple truth - “They live as long as we can provide them dignity and quality of life given their injury or reason for captivity.”
Rayne, TRC’s red phase Eastern Screech Owl, arrived as an adult bird in June of 2015 from the Alabama Wildlife Center. She was the victim of a collision, likely a car strike, which left her with no vision in her left eye and limited vision in her right. Unable to make a return to the wild she needed a new job... to teach!
Which brings us to today... 58,380 people and 416 programs later... Rayne has done her job, and she’s done it exceptionally well.
Over the past few months Rayne developed increasingly worrying symptoms likely related to her original injuries. After extensive research, on-site intervention in our clinic, and consultation with our advisory council of veterinarians, it became clear we had exhausted all possibilities to no avail. Surgery was our last resort, and alas, Rayne’s heart was simply not strong enough. She passed away peacefully, and without pain, on Monday afternoon, June 18th, at Jackson Animal Hospital.
Dignity in life. Dignity in death.
The live raptors on TRC’s education team remind us every day to keep pushing our passion for raptor conservation to new heights. It is our deepest desire for ALL wild birds to remain wild. We take great pride in giving those that cannot be released a purpose through teaching. They are not pets. They are ambassadors for their wild counterparts. They are the reason many of us develop our deep love and respect for nature.
It is often the smallest birds that end up occupying the largest space in our hearts. Thousands of people have almost passed Rayne by thinking she was a toy... but, once discovered, most folks simply could not look away from her gaze. She pulled everyone into the conversation. “What type of bird is that?”, “Is that full size?!?”, “Why is she here?”, and “Can I do anything to help birds like Rayne?”.
Your choices matter. Help us honor Rayne’s life today, and every day:
Donate to the Meg and Bert Raynes Wildlife Fund (for whom Rayne was named) to support conservation initiatives across Jackson Hole - www.rayneswildlifefund.org
Slow down at night to prevent collisions with wildlife.
Pick up litter, especially along roadways.
Put up a nest box.
Secure your chimney and dryer vent to prevent small animals from injury and entrapment.
Sponsor a poo-poo screen to protect screech owls, and other cavity nesting wildlife, from pit toilets.
Set aside 20 minutes of your day to learn about screech owls and the important role they play in the ecosystem.
Reduce, reuse, and recycle to prevent the disruption of habitat for resources already found on the surface.
Share this post - Tell your friends about Teton Raptor Center and our passion for raptor conservation in Jackson Hole and across the planet.
Spend time in the outdoors - leave no trace - remember nature is a place humans visit, but it’s the place wildlife calls home.
Thank you for your service, Rayne. You will be missed.