Baby Owls Rescued from Wildfire Are Ready to Fly Again

UPDATED 07/24/2013 at 07:30 PM EDT Originally published 07/23/2013 at 03:00 PM EDT

Carstens Fire: Rescued Baby Owls
U.S. Forest Service
Hoot, hoot, hooray!

Following the tragic Carstens Fire in Mariposa County, Calif., on June 19, a tiny glimmer of hope emerged from the ruins. And we mean tiny!

While working on recovery, firefighter Nick Gauthier discovered two gray owlets in a felled tree. But instead of removing the babies from the scene immediately, Gauthier and his fellow firefighters decided to wait for the mother owl's return. When she didn't come back, the fledglings, one of which seemed extra lethargic, were taken to a home.

Now, after a few weeks spent in a temperature-controlled container, feasting on a diet of mice and crickets, the owlets have regained their strength.

"They clack their beaks to frighten me away, and can now fly away very well," Teri Williams of Fresno Wildlife Rehabilitation tells "When they don't know humans are watching they can be very goofy and interact with each other in funny ways … playing chase and hide-and-seek around their room."

Now 6 or 7 weeks old, Puff, named from his habit of puffing up when threatened, and once-lethargic Stuff, jokingly named for not having the "right stuff" genetically, will be released into their natural habitat soon.

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