“Hello is anyone here?” Standing at the reception desk of Operation Wildlife Rescue http://www.owl-online.org/aboutus.html. I could hear human voices somewhere in the back of the building over the sound of a dryer. I peeked around a doorway calling a bit louder and noticed a line of clean, airy kennels each occupied by a variety of native predatory birds. I recognized a Red Tail Hawk, another Barred Owl who stared back at me with distinctive dark eyes and a yellow beak, a flat faced Barn Owl and a number of other smaller owls. Each observed my every motion through stoic and watchful eyes.
My first thought was how beautiful each bird was and how amazing it must be to work with these creatures on a daily basis. Then, it struck me that none of these magnificent creatures were here for display, entertainment or commercial gains. And that if given the choice, each would have chosen the freedom of the open sky, the vast native prairies or woodland habitats, rather than the confinement of a cage. Instead, each was here for a specific reason, rehabilitation. The human voices I could hear were the volunteers who give of both their time and compassion to care for these sick and injured wild birds. Their ultimate goal is to return these animals back to the wild.
And in my own small way, I was here for the same reason. The previous night, my husband and I had passed a Barred Owl sitting in the middle of our road. We turned around and I went back to see if I could help him. He was upright and conscious but seemed to be in shock as he did not move or resist when I picked him up. I held him in my lap the less than one mile home and again, no resistance or reaction or obvious external trauma. I assumed he had been hit by a car.
Long story short, he spent the night in a dog crate in our heated garage. I did not attempt to examine him for further injury fearful I would do more harm to his already shocked system. He did perk up and seem to track my movements on subsequent checks through the night.
I knew of the fine work that Operation WildLife has done in our area for many years (actually since 1989) and left a message with them to contact me when able.http://www.owl-online.org/aboutus.html They did, and I was encouraged to bring the rescued owl to their main facililiy on Guthrie Rd, Linwood, Ks. Director, Dianne Johnson pointed out that many birds hit by cars suffer vision loss and lose their abiility to fly or track prey.
And indeed, our young, Barred owl( I had been calling Hootie) was suffering from damage to his right eye, trauma to his head and possible fractured ulnar(wing bone). Hootie, now renamed Jasper for my little dog who’d been quite fascinated by our overnight guest and apparently Hootie is a too common name. Go figure. Jasper the owl, would remain with the knowlegible team at Operation Wildlife and be given the medical treatment that would hopefully allow a full recovery and return to the wild.
If you are not familiar with Operation WildLife, let me tell you they are a 501c3 organization that relies on the generosity of donors to continue the exceptional work they do for our native animals. They accept and rehabilitate thousands of animals per year covering 4500 square miles in the state of Kansas. They have a 69% rehabilitative rate which is 20% higher than the national average. Volunteers staff the clinic and are always needed. The requirement to volunteer is one day per week with on the job-training. If you think you might like to give of your time, you can fill out an online application at http://www.owl-online.org/volunteer.html. They have a number of other programs ongoing as well. Check out their adopt-a-bird program, http://www.owl-online.org/adoptabird.html and learn how you can get involved.
Trust me, getting involved with one of these amazing creatures will change your life for the better!
So check out Operation WildLife and help out Jasper and other injured wild animals like him.