Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A free bird again

It’s always wonderful to see a happy ending to a story, especially when you get to be there for both the beginning and the end! Working as a phone counselor, admissions receptionist and visitor greeter, as well as development and marketing coordinator for the Wildlife In Need Center, I don’t often get to make a connection with any one patient that comes through our doors. Well, I did try to raise those orphaned white-footed mice, but we’ll save that story for another time.

I received a call early on a Thursday morning near the end of August from a business owner. He had rescued a Great Horned owl found with its leg caught on a piece of equipment. Upon arrival it seemed like the bird was in terrible shape, but a thorough examination revealed that, although dehydrated from the struggle, his injuries appeared to be primarily external.

We kept him calm for several days, treating the wounds and consulting with our volunteer veterinarians. It was confirmed that he had no fracture so it would just be a matter of time before he was healed and ready to go back home!

After 2 weeks of therapy and treatment his leg was looking much better and he was prepared to return home. The area where he had been found was a short way south of where I live so I was asked if I’d be willing to assist. So, after shutting down the office for the evening I watched as he was packed into a kennel cab for the ride. I drove home quietly and when I got there left him to rest quietly in the garage while we waited for the sun to go down.

After dinner my husband and I got in the car and headed out. We found the location easily and, since it was beginning to get dark, we pulled in with our headlights shining on the area we wanted to release him. Once we were set up I stood behind the kennel and opened the door. He hesitated for a moment as Andy was set-up to photograph the event and he could see him out of the corner of the doorway. Once he inched back a couple of inches however, the owl regained his bravery and came storming out!

The one shot of the event that turned out was this moment; the rest of his adventure was a graceful arch up and out, heading to the west and into a thicket of trees. One aspect of assisting on releases is that you get to talk to people. I talk to a lot of people during the day with questions regarding their wild neighbors and the center, but when you speak to someone during a special event like this it’s different. Before we could hop back in our cars to bid our owl friend a final adieu a vehicle stopped to find out if we needed any help. Once we explained what we were doing the passerby gladly took some information about the Center and said she was definitely going to contact us about volunteering. IF she joins us, hopefully we’ll be able to have even more happy endings.

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