While taking his usual favorite hike, a man was very surprised to find found two big trees laying across the trail, blown down by the latest storm. Both trees housed Barn Owl nesting boxes that were also now on the ground. One was empty, but had previously been occupied. The second box, however, had two owls inside - what was initially thought to be an adult and a chick. WildCare (our local wildlife hospital) was called, who then contacted us at HOP. We took action immediately.
I met the willing hiker who showed me the box. Inside, I saw one adult female. Knowing there could be injured young chicks at this time of year, we very carefully opened the box. I removed the adult parent only to find 5 very crushed eggs. I suspected there had be an adult male in the box mistaken for a chick. The box was damaged and it was saturated inside. After checking "Mom" who appeared to be in great shape - no injuries, well fleshed, legs, wings and feathers perfect and hydrated.. as well as very feisty! - I decided to release her into the surrounding trees where she would know where to hide away from other predators and be safe. There were no hawks or ravens in the area at the time (hawks and ravens can potentially attack Barn Owls). I wanted to discourage her from trying to get back into the damage box. My plan was to find the property owner to get permission to install more boxes to replace the damaged ones as soon as possible.
NOTE: Releasing owls during the day is not recommended unless releasing them into a nesting box. Otherwise, after dusk is preferable. Since the location wasn't easy to reach after dark I made the decision to release the mother owl during the day knowing since she would be very familiar with the territory. There were plenty of trees around to find a safe place to roost.
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