309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., more commonly referred to as "The Boneyard", has a lengthy history here in Tucson, Ariz. Since 1946, the facility has performed aircraft storage, parts support and regeneration in support of the warfighter. The nearly 600 employees at AMARG do some pretty remarkable things, but one thing most people aren't aware of, is their capable skill of rescuing owls.
The great horned owl, also known as a hoot owl, cat owl, or winged tiger, has chosen to make its home in the rafters of an open-air maintenance structure at AMARG. The high roof line on what the maintainers refer to as the "shelter," is an ideal place for the owls to nest and call home. For years, since a family of noisy ravens found alternate accommodations, the owls have produced and raised families from their high vantage point above the aircraft maintenance activities.
AMARG is a popular destination for dignitaries and community leaders visiting Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and it's not uncommon for them to be offered an opportunity to walk the entire length of this 906 foot long aircraft nose dock. In addition to viewing ongoing maintenance on the A-10s, and both F-16 and C-130 aircraft regeneration activities, the owls have become an added attraction to those fortunate enough to be afforded a boots-on-the-ground tour.
In April, aircraft mechanics beginning their work day discovered a great horned owl chick timidly sitting on a maintenance stand. It was assumed that the fledgling had fallen out of its nest from the rafters above. Very alert and very aware of the developing human interest in its condition, the baby appeared to be in good health with no obvious signs of trauma. However, at roughly four weeks of age, it was defenseless and unable to return to its nest which rests high in the cross beams 60 feet overhead. With two siblings remaining in the nest, concerned parents watched helplessly.