Monday, November 28, 2011
Rescued great horned owl soars off to a new life..
The Quad-City Times, November 27, 2011
Jacob McCredie tumbled backward as the cage door opened part-way, and the inhabitant, a great horned owl, rushed out in a blur of wings.
The bird flew off toward the trees where Jacob and a friend had rescued it nearly two months earlier.
There was no Hollywood movie-like final meeting of eyes between boy and bird to say farewell or thank you, just a wild creature heading, finally, to the life it was born to experience.
Initially, the family thought the young bird had a damaged wing, but they later learned “the problem was that she’d probably left the nest too early,”
The McCredies drove to Iowa City and turned the owl over to Luke Hart of the Macbride Raptor Project raptor center. If the owl was to have any chance of living, Macbride was its best opportunity.
Hart figured the baby female might have been on the ground for as long as nine days.
Gradually, she gained weight and strength and was sent in late September to the Macbride Nature Recreation Area about 15 miles north of Iowa City. Birds there are prepared for release into the wild by spending time in a flight cage. The young owl learned how to fly properly in order to catch mice, squirrels and other forms of food. “Owls have to fly silently, so that’s something we look for in the flight cage facility,” Hart said.
Finally, the young bird was declared ready for release, and the McCredie family, accompanied by some of Jacob’s friends, drove to Iowa City to get her. Jacob held the owl before she was placed in a box for the trip back to Bettendorf property and returned it to the wild.
The Raptor project releases about 45 percent of the birds that come into their clinic a testimony to the good work the raptor center does.
It is the largest and most effective facility of its kind in Iowa.