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a blog by and for Utah Birders

Rescuing an Owl

posted by Jeff Bilsky at
on Sunday, June 17, 2012 

On Saturday June 16th, I was visiting the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah (WRCNU) with a friend. As we arrived, a call came in regarding an owl that was "hanging from underneath a bridge". We volunteered to go check it out and see if we could be of any help. The reports were that it had been there at least a couple of days. After some help on directions, we found the location of the bird and identified it as a Great Horned Owl. It was hanging upside down, at least 50 feet up from its nest and one foot appeared tangled rather severely in what we now know was baling twine. The bird was alive but clearly not doing well. It seemed to flap and struggle a bit every couple of minutes while one of its parents and a sibling looked on from close by. 

After some discussion with a DNR official about our options, we concluded that the best bet for helping the owl would be to try to find a truck with a ladder. Dalyn Erickson at the WRCNU was able to get in touch with the South Weber Fire Department who came over and assessed the situation. The challenge was how to get their truck down to the area below the bridge. It was located on a small dirt road, off the main drive and was gated. Despite these obstacles, they acted quickly and were able to get the truck in and positioned to try to help.

As a handful of hopeful people watched, the fire department sprang into action. Here's a video:

After the owl was handed off, we brought it directly to the WRCNU for assessment.
At this point, they are still working on the owl; it will lose at least 1 and a half toes, but there is some hope that it could have enough of a recovery to be released into the wild some day. We should know more in the coming days.

I thought it was really cool to watch so many people pull together for a common cause. The fire department wasn't obligated to try to help this owl, but they never hesitated once they saw they had the ability to do so. As always, I was amazed by my visit to the WRCNU and all the creatures they are trying to help. If you'd like to contribute to their efforts to heal this owl and the countless other birds and animals they take in, please go to this link .

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


June 18, 2012 at 12:23 AM  
Blogger Kiirsi said...

My kids and I really loved reading about this and watching the video. Thank you for saving this owl!

June 18, 2012 at 8:44 AM  
Anonymous Irene Grysman said...

This is really great! Thanks, Jeff, for that great post and video.

June 18, 2012 at 3:43 PM  
Blogger Tim Avery said...

Jeff Bilsky "Bird Rescuer". I can see the television series now.

June 19, 2012 at 8:06 AM  
Blogger Kenny Frisch said...

Here is the first episode of Jeff Bilsky: Bird Rescuer. It is from his appearance on a news show.


June 19, 2012 at 3:37 PM  

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