Sometimes when opportunity knocks, you actually get a second chance. Last week I got a phone call from a volunteer at the Center for Wildlife; she was going to be releasing a saw-whet owl. Unfortunately, I was in the throes of the flu and had to watch the chance go by without me. I was more than a little bummed out. I have always had a fascination for raptors – at one point in my life I even investigated what it would take to get a falconry license. Needless to say, I didn’t have what it took!
Saturday she called again. “I’m releasing a barred owl Monday – are you interested…and over the flu?”
Interested – you bet! Over the flu – I wasn’t going to let a lingering cough stop me this time. Family in the car, phone call to some good friends who I thought would be interested in seeing the release and off to Maine. We got to the release site a few minutes before the beautiful owl was to regain its freedom – it had been in rehab since being found laying in the road in November not far from the release site ( I think the choice of release location was anything but an accident).
Jane Kelly, the volunteer, handled the bird as familiarly and gently as I handle my dog – confidence exhuded from her as she removed it from the carrier used to transport it, showed the bird off for a few pictures, then with a flourish set it free.
The owl flew to a nearby maple tree, landed and surveyed its circumstances for a few minutes, then flew to another tree, rested there, then on again. I was struck by the bird’s camouflage – had I not seen where it had landed I never would have noticed it.
Makes me wonder how many owls I’ve walked right past and never known they were there. And thanks to the efforts of the Center for Wildlife in York, Maine, there is at least one more raptor alive in the Maine woods. Now if only I can learn to spot them in the wild.