Baby Barred Owl Rescue
As the first specatcular June Saturday on the lake was winding down, some neighbors were enjoying conversation and drink around the fire pit at the home of Ellen & Vince Heiny (A-41). Next-door neighbor Jamie Mellinger said she heard a thud down the lane and saw something in the driveway a couple doors down. Several got up to investigate. They soon discovered that a baby Barred owlet had fallen from an old beech tree nearby that had a prominent hole high up in the branches – likely the little guy's nest. After a time, the neighbors returned to the fire pit, immediately refreshed their adult beverages, and went to work. It didn't take Vince long to determine exactly what to do next after a search on Google. He called a phone number for a local Fort Wayne non-profit organization called Soarin' Hawk Raptor Rehabilitation Center (soarinhawk.org).
When Vince reported that the grounded owlet was near Oliver Lake in LaGrange County, she replied that they were just finishing up an adult Bald Eagle rescue at Pine Knob Park on SR120 near Howe and that they'd arrive shortly. No more than 20 minutes later Soarin Hawk rescuers arrived on the scene in three cars. They carefully assessed the owlet's condition and determined he should be re-placed in the tree to ensure that his parents would continue to feed and nurture the baby. The Mellingers supplied a wooden box that was rigged up in the Beech tree and the Soarin' Hawk staff carefully placed the Owlet in the box. Low temperatures and the possibility of rain were of concern since a baby owlet cannot regulate its temperature on its own and must be constantly tended and warmed by the mother. The neighbors were asked to call Soarin' Hawk in the morning to let them know if the Owlet was still in the box.
Before they left that evening the Soaring Hawk staff showed those assembled the adult Bald Eagle that they had just rescued in Pine Knob Park. He was contained in what they called an ICU rescue cage/box. The Eagle had three wounds to its leg and one to a talon, and the DNR officer speculated it had hit a power line. The Eagle is recovering in captivity and his status may be viewed at: soarinhawk.org/birds/06032017-bald-eage
On Sunday morning the owlet was no longer visible in the wooden box but one was spotted peering out the hole in the Beech that was believed to be its original nest. Ms. Lana Lee of Soarin' Hawk came back on Sunday to observe and take pictures and all present decided that Oliver would make an appropriate name for the owlet. Lana said that while an owlet cannot fly back to the nest it can make the climb with careful nudging and coaching from the parent and that this is likely what happened. Ongoing monitoring will be required to ensure that Oliver is getting the care he requires from his parents but being nocturnal birds it is a challenge to be sure. However, the parents have been seen daily in the immediate area of the nest and his neighborhood admirers are hopeful that Oliver will make it to adulthood.
We are all very fortunate to enjoy the feast of nature offered by the lakes and surrounding area, including our raptor friends, and to have such dedicated and knowlegeable staff and volunteers at Soarin' Hawk to help those in need of special care. Please keep them in mind if you spot a raptor in distress and also in your giving plans.
Submitted by Patrick Wiltshire