Hopi the barn owl recently flew the coop. Keepers fear for her safety because she has never lived in the wild.
Santa Clarita Valley Signal-August 4, 2011
There’s only one reason why captive barn owl Hopi would want to escape the comfortable confines of the Placerita Canyon Nature Center: A wild male owl wooed her.
About a two months ago, Hopi, a longtime fixture at the center, squeezed through the bars of her enclosure and through a hole she’d chewed out of its screen.
“She made a perfect outline of her body shape, size, width and height,” Placerita Canyon Nature Center Superintendent Russ Kimura said.
Center workers had seen and heard a male barn owl courting Hopi for days before she escaped.
Ranger Frank Hoffman was on vacation at the time. Hoffman raised Hopi from 5 days old; she’s now 14 years old.
“Obviously, I’m still bummed,” Hoffman said. “But if I have to lose Hopi, this is the only way I’d like to lose Hopi. At least she has an opportunity to be free and wild.”
During her tenure at the Nature Center, the sweet-tempered owl helped teach thousands of visitors about her species and its importance in the food chain, Hoffman said..
Hoffman cautioned residents from looking for Hopi because barn owls are common in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Her chances of survival are slim since she never learned how to fend for herself, Hoffman said. But Hoffman said it’s possible her new mate is caring for her.
Since Hopi’s escape, nature center staff have reinforced the enclosures of the six other birds there with narrower bars and new screens