Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Meter Reader Saves a brood
These baby barn owls were saved by a meter reader after falling from a pine tree.
Several weeks ago, Bill Sauls of Keystone Heights, Fla.-based Clay Electric Cooperative was driving along his route when he heard a loud crash. Sauls discovered that a large pine tree had fallen. As he approached the tree, he noticed four baby barn owls had plummeted from their nest.
Sauls’ instincts took over as he intervened. “I couldn’t leave them there,” he said. “They would’ve been killed for sure.”
After investigating the area, Sauls found some neighbors nearby. He told them about the incident and they called Florida Wildlife Care, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to the care and conservation of native wildlife and habitat in Florida.
“Barn owls are cavity nesting birds whose young fare best with the security and protection of an enclosed nest,” said Charlotte Loomis, a local owl conversation advocate. “They are extremely vulnerable to predators if they end up on the ground.”
On April 26, a representative from the nonprofit group traveled nearly an hour from its Gainesville, Fla., facility to pick up the owlets from the co-op for tests. Barn owls are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Once the examinations were completed, three of the birds were determined to be injury-free and could be returned home the next day, said Leslie Straub, director of FWC. Straub then called Loomis to take the birds back home, and within 24 hours the owlets were placed in a large wooden nest box, which was attached to a tree near the original nest.
A fourth bird was injured and needed to stay at the wildlife facility longer than expected. Once the bird was able to stand on its own, Loomis returned it to join its thriving siblings on Mother’s Day.
“I have been involved in barn owl conservation and advocacy for the last few years and believe that Leslie Straub and Billy Sauls’ timely actions saved the lives of all four owlets,” Loomis said.
According to Loomis, upon returning to the site and installing an owl house for the birds, she noticed that the birds’ parents were “looking for their babies and were ready for their return.”
“That four owlets were saved in this way provides a wildlife rescue story with the happiest and most heartwarming of endings,” Loomis said. “Billy’s part in the outcome of this story is deeply appreciated. His actions provide a perfect model for all of us, should we come across this kind of natural accident in the wild.”