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Video: Owl's return home to Squamish - A story of rescue and release

Once-vulnerable owl, now thriving in the wild.

The once vulnerable baby owl is now home, fully grown and prepared for the world. 

On May 17, Squamish's Morgan Campbell and Rick Shaddock rescued a barred owlet in Brackendale at the Brackendale Farmers Institute Park.

They knew the bird was in trouble because it was sitting on a log with dogs and people walking by, but it was not yet a fledgling, so couldn't fly away.

"Just not enough featheredge," said Campbell.

Shaddock added, "It must have fallen because we walked through the park and came back and then it was there. Dogs were walking by, and there are coyotes here."

A quick call later, local wildlife volunteer Sheila Phillips picked up the vulnerable owl and transferred it to the OWL Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society. 

There, it was nurtured until it was ready to be on its own.

On Aug. 7, the now-grown owl was returned to the park and released, with its rescuers and happy locals watching on. 

Kate Fink, of OWL, who brought the raptor back to the park Monday night, said it now weighs 600 to 800 grams and is well suited to survive in the wild, perhaps having an edge over his wild counterparts of the same age. 

"When they first leave the nest, especially when they're trying to stop eating, that's kind of the toughest time for all of them in their lifespan because they have got to figure it out," she said, looking up and watching the owl who had settled in a nearby tree after release. "Obviously, we'd prefer that they be raised in the wild, but he does have an advantage in that he's going into this having figured it out, and he's pretty fat. So he has some extra time. And he knows how to hunt live mice; we know that."

Asked how it felt to see the bird released, Campbell said it had been the hope since they found it. 

"It's always wonderful to have the release," she said. "That's the hope."

To support the work of OWL, check out their webpage.


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