Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Owl released from captivity after fly in with SUV
“She suffered fairly substantial injuries,” said LuAnn LaSusa, a wildlife keeper at Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn.
The driver eventually became aware of the injured owl after driving several miles to his destination, then called Hampshire police. Officers took the injured bird on Nov. 30 to be cared for at Willowbrook, which is operated by the DuPage County Forest Preserve District.
LaSusa said the female owl suffered an eye injury, a broken clavicle, two broken ribs, and needed a bandage on her wing to immobilize it. Since then, LaSusa and other staff members have been working with the bird to prepare her to venture back into the wild.
That journey started Monday morning, when Willowbrook staff members released the bird into Pratt’s Wayne Woods Forest Preserve near Bartlett. Officials hope she will make her way to Wisconsin, Minnesota, Canada and beyond.
“We hope she will continue with her migration,” LaSusa said. “She might hang out for a little bit to get her bearing, she might hunt, but we expect her to head north.”
The snowy owl — the same species seen in films like the “Harry Potter” series and “Legend of the Guardians: Owls of Ga’Hoole” — ended up in Illinois because she was looking for food.
“Last year was a big year for their food source, so the population expanded and now they are coming farther south to find food,” she said.
Willowbrook staff members don’t name the animals that come to the center for rehabilitation, since their goal is to get them back into the wild. They also respect each animal’s natural habits, such as the owl’s uneasiness around humans.
That practice continued at the owl’s release Monday, which was away from a public area in the preserve.
“Because the bird would normally be in the tundra, she’s extra high-stressed,” LaSusa said. “So we are pretty protective of keeping people away from her.”
The bird took a moment to get her bearings after being released from a blanketed crate Monday, flew off within seconds and was quickly out of site.
see video on WWC flight cage