| Feb 24, 2005

Feature artcle, February 17, 2005

Nature Reflections February 24, 2005

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Saga of the Owl

by Jean Griffin

What happened? Had the bird been struck by a passing vehicle? The Great Horned Owl first seen by the roadside on Armstrong Road obviously had difficulty flying as it would only fly a few feet. Lets call this bird Lucky. It was spotted by Frank as he drove by in the school bus. He enlisted the aid of Jarrett, who after several attempts caught the bird, and holding it wrapped in his jacket went to find a cage. Frank then took Lucky home in the cage, and they started to make inquiries as to where the bird could be cared for.

They were referred to Kit Chubb at the Avian Research Centre in Verona, who made arrangements for Sharon on Howe Island to take the bird. This is where I came in, and two days later I picked up Lucky from Frank, who described how the bird had accepted venison right from his hand. Off to Howe Island, where the owl was given to Sharon.


Sharon checked the bird over, and while one wing seemed a bit stiff, she could find no injuries. During this time Lucky was becoming stronger, though there was now no venison on the menu. It appeared that she (it was a first-year female) would be able to be released. In consultation with Kit, it was decided to take the owl to her place where it could be kept under observation in a large outdoor aviary for a couple of days, so Judy drove her from Kingston to Verona. Once Lucky exhibited good flying skills, Sharon enlisted the aid of Chris to catch the now restless bird and they then returned her to the area where she had been first spotted, and released her.

Only eight days after having been first seen unable to fly far, Lucky flew quickly and strongly off for about 50 metres, landing on a branch of a tree. She could be seen checking the area as she moved her head around, and gave herself a good shake, as if shaking off the events of the past few days. In a few minutes she was off again, to resume her life in her home habitat. Because this was a first-year bird she would not have been nesting. That will come late next winter after she has found a mate and they have established their breeding territory, perhaps in the same locale where she was released.

She was lucky! She may only have been stunned by a passing vehicle and had regained her ability to fly because there were no broken bones. Hopefully neither she nor her mate will have any more problems with passing vehicles. Thanks to all the caring people who helped!

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