Elusive owl from Largo nature park may be faring better than thought

LARGO — Instead of watching the Super Bowl, Largo parks superintendent Greg Brown was watching an owl Sunday night.

After a week of false sightings, including a plastic owl atop a furniture store, Largo officials entered a new phase in the search for JR, the great horned owl.

That phase is watching and waiting. On JR's terms.

On Friday, the owl was spotted inside the George C. McGough Nature Park, the same park where he escaped Jan. 28 after authorities say someone cut a hole in his enclosure.

"He blends right in — he may have been in the park all along," Brown said.

Now, for Brown and others, the effort is luring the owl close enough to be netted.

Hatched 14 years ago and raised in captivity, the owl lacks the skills to survive on his own, park officials said.

But new evidence suggests JR may be faring better in the wild (or at least within the confines of the protected nature park) than initially thought.

"We have a pellet," Brown said.

An owl pellet contains the indigestible remains of owl prey. Unlike JR's usual pellets, which contain only choice meats of his dead rat and chick dinners, this one, on preliminary analysis, contained bones.

"Either he ate something alive, or got lucky and found some carrion," Brown said.

Brown said efforts to capture JR will continue.

Elusive owl from Largo nature park may be faring better than thought 02/06/11 [Last modified: Sunday, February 6, 2011 9:04pm]

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