By Cheryl Conley, TWRC Wildlife Center

Let me introduce you to Iris, our 9-year-old Eastern Screech Owl. She makes her home at TWRC Wildlife Center and is a “gal about town”. As one of our Animal Ambassadors, she can often be seen at schools, churches and community events throughout the Houston area.

Iris was just a few days old when a rescuer found her on the ground. Our vet staff could see that one of her eyes wasn’t developing properly. After being examined by a specialist, it was discovered that she was blind in that eye. Knowing that owls can still survive in the wild with only one eye, a dedicated rehabilitator worked with her to prepare her for release. With her eye problem and some other issues that developed, it was decided that it was in the best interest of Iris not to release her and instead “promote” her to an Animal Ambassador.

Iris lives a pretty good life. She is served with frozen mice that have been warmed. She goes to the “beauty shop” every couple of months to get her nails done (actually they’re called talons) and get her beak trimmed and shaped. She is also given a thorough examination to make sure she is healthy. We are grateful to Dr. White at Briarcrest Veterinary Clinic who donates his time to the Center to care for Iris and our other Animal Ambassadors. In the wild, Screech Owls live an average of 12 years but because Iris doesn’t have to face the challenges of life in the wild, she is expected to live well beyond 12 years of age.

Screech owls have a unique call. One source described it as a horse on helium. They let out a descending whinny capped off with a trill. If you come to our Center to visit, she may even “talk” to you. One of her favorite things is to do is to respond to sirens she hears. As soon as she hears a siren, she starts in. Wish we could read her mind to find out why she does that.

Iris and her handlers are available to come and talk to your group, your school, your church or other gatherings. If you would like pricing information, send an email to [email protected].

TWRC Wildlife Center is a 501(c)(3) organization.