Owl found injured in Dublin expected to make a full recovery

  • An injured barred owl was rescued from the side of Route 101 in Dublin Thursday afternoon. Courtesy photo—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 7/19/2019 5:19:05 PM

Dublin Police rescued a juvenile barred owl from the side of Route 101 on Thursday afternoon and brought it to the Winchester Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for treatment. It is expected to make a full recovery.

“A couple stopped into the police department, they saw the owl sitting by the side of the road looking confused,” said Police Chief Timothy Suokko, who said the couple reported the owl around 1 p.m. “I took a ride over and saw him standing on the side of the road, and picked him up. He was actually pretty friendly.”

Suokko brought the owl to the Winchester Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, where Debra Gode took over care.

“The owl’s doing very well,” Gode said on Friday. “He has a soft tissue injury to his right wing, which is why he isn’t flying.”

She said she managed to feed the owl twice on Thursday and twice on Friday, and the owl was perching and is likely to make a full recovery.

“He’s snapping at me right now as I’m looking at him,” she said during a telephone interview.

She expects it will take a couple weeks before the owl is ready for release.

“We don’t want him stressing out the wing,” Gode said.

She wants the animals she treats to be at “100 percent” prior to release, in order to have the best chance at survival in the wild.

When a release does occur, it’s usually a private event.

“It’s kind of stressful for them, so most of the time I quietly let them go,” Gode said.

She plans to eventually release the owl close to where it was collected.

Barred owls are the most common owl species in New Hampshire, Gode said, and the one discovered in Dublin was a juvenile male that was likely born this past March.

“The youngsters hunt near the road, where it’s easier to find mice,” she said, a behavior that puts them at risk for collisions with cars.

Gode treated 30 owls this past winter. Whether an owl can be released back into the wild depends mostly on the nature of its injury. She said that concussed owls have a good probability of release, so long as they didn’t sustain internal bleeding. Birds with broken wings can be released if a veterinarian can successfully pin their bones.

“There are other breaks that don’t heal properly,” Gode said.

She tries to place those birds with raptor education facilities like VINS of Queechee, Vermont, Birdsacre of Ellsworth, Maine, or Hogback Mountain Conservation Association in Marlboro, Vermont.

“I’m usually able to find a taker,” she said.

When Gode receives baby owls at her facility, she places them with her resident, non-releasable owl that acts as a surrogate parent.

“A baby owl needs to know that it’s an owl,” she said, and the presence of her resident, adult owl gives the baby raptors the behavioral cues and sense of identity essential to their development.

Gode takes in about 250 animals a year. She is one of a few licensed wildlife rehabilitators in the region, and one of two that are licensed to accept birds.

The Migratory Bird Act requires rehabilitators to hold a federal permit in order to treat native, non-game birds. The next-nearest licensed bird rehabilitator is Wings Wildlife Rehabilitation in Henniker.

During certain seasons, Gode will receive injured or orphaned wildlife from as far away as Exeter or Windham.

“This is baby season,” she said, which means that, among rehabilitators, “everybody’s full and exhausted right now.”

She said that during this time of the year, people are willing to drive animals long distances to a facility that can accommodate them because the alternative is euthanasia. Gode is currently raising a number of baby skunks, raccoons and opossum. She vaccinates the animals she treats for distemper and rabies.

In the event of finding an injured bird of prey, Gode said safety is top priority: “Be very careful of the talons. Some of the bigger guys like the great horned owl can put their talons right through [a] hand.”

For injured birds or other wildlife, she recommends calling a wildlife rehabilitator, the local police department, or the NH Fish and Game. The Fish and Game commission maintains a list of licensed rehabilitators and what animals they accept. Click here to find one www.wildlife.state.nh.us/wildlife/rehabilitators.html.


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