After four months at the Raptor Center in St. Paul, a great horned owl finally came back home to its territory on Schauble Hill between Caledonia and Hokah on Dec. 2.
The owl’s misadventure started on July 26 of this year when it was found lying on the side of Highway 44 on Schauble Hill, unable to move. It had likely been hit by a car, something that happens as owls hunt along roadside ditches.
An unidentified rescuer picked up the owl and delivered it to the Raptor Center in St. Paul, the nearest rehabilitation facility in Minnesota. The owl held its eyes shut and had blood in its left ear, definitely indicating trauma to the head. It was thin, but had already thrown up a pellet with blood on it. This bird needed to get to the Raptor Center ASAP if it was to have a chance.
The Raptor Center confirmed the owl had trauma to both eyes…a very critical problem for an owl. It also had broken feathers that needed to be dealt with.
The Raptor Center called on Dec. 1 saying the owl was ready to be released. They wanted it back home before the snow hit in two days. When the birds are ready to go, they’re ready to go NOW, on short notice.
She put on welding gloves and took the owl out of the box for everyone to see in the light of the garage. It was wearing a shiny new numbered silver band on its leg, which you can see in the photo if you look closely.
She let the owl get its bearings, relaxed her grip, and held it out so it could fly when it was ready. After a short while it bolted out of her hands and up into a tree on the side of the yard,
The owl should have had a mate when it left in July, but it would be likely that the mate left behind had taken a new mate during the four month absence. So then what? Does this owl have to find a new mate? Does the new owl in the territory get the boot and the old mates get back together? Or maybe there was no new mate to contend with, which would make things easy. We’ll probably never know.
If you’d like to help owls, please don’t throw even biodegradable garbage into ditches. Food like banana peels, apple cores, etc. attract a higher than normal number of rodents, making ditches a very attractive place to hunt for hawks and owls, and making them more likely to be hit by cars
The owl is back in familiar territory and back to being an owl thanks to the person who picked it up.