Todd Stowell, of Isle, was traveling on Hwy. 65 on his way to Grand Rapids last Thursday. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a barred owl. Being a lover of animals, when he sees animals that are hurt by the side of the road, he’ll try to help them – if he sees a turtle on the road, he’ll help it across.
At first glance, Stowell thought the owl may have been taking a rest or eating roadkill. But it looked like it was sleeping, so he knew something was wrong. He quickly turned his car around to check on the bird.
“I got up close to the bird and could tell something was wrong,” said Stowell. “She looked at me and then kind of flew off. I got a blanket out of my car because I knew she was hurt.”
The owl tried its best to fly away but was unable. Stowell threw his blanket gently over the bird, scooped her up and put her in the back seat of the car, and eventually into a dog kennel to keep her safe and calm.
He then drove the owl to the Wild & Free Wildlife Rehabilitation Organization in Garrison. Wild & Free was able to take the owl in.
Mary Roach, general manager for Wild & Free, said the owl had sustained a severe concussion from being hit by a car. “But she’s doing well. I fed her four mice on Saturday, and she ate them all. So I gave her five mice on Sunday, and she ate them,” said Roach. “She’s now on the lowest perch in the cage. When they climb to the highest perce, we know they’re feeling better.”
Roach said they can tell the owl has a concussion because one eye is open with a dilated pupil, and the other eye is half closed.
“She’s eating, and I’m optimistic that she’ll be fine,” added Roach. “I was pleasantly surprised how much she ate.”
Roach added that when birds are injured at home, there is a way to help them rehabilitate.
DIY bird rehab
People can be novice bird rehabbers at their home, Roach said. “Birds are migrating now, and they’re also visiting our bird feeders and hitting our windows, unfortunately,” she said.
Roach said that if a bird hits a house window and gets knocked out, you can hold them upright. “Many birds will recover,” she said. “If they stay on their side or on their backs, they will likely die. Hold the bird upright so their head is up. Sometimes it might take 15 minutes or more. If they’re feeling better, they may flutter around. Then you can set them in a safe place.”
As for the rescued owl, Roach said that they will keep her at Wild & Free and monitor her progress. When she feels better (they’ll know when she starts chattering and clicking her beak when they approach her and flies to the higher perch), they’ll give her test flights for a couple days to ensure she has her strength back. They will then release her back into the wild.
“It was pretty neat to come up on something like that and to be able to help,” added Stowell. “They’re beautiful animals.”