Quick action by two visitors to the Connecticut Audubon Society sanctuary in Fairfield and staff saved a Barred Owl that injured a wing, most likely while hunting for food.
On Saturday, two people who were hiking at the Larsen Sanctuary. The visitors stopped at the center’s nature store and showed the staff a video they had just taken of the owl and also told them where the owl was seen.
Staff members jumped into action headed into the woods to find it.
“We all split up and looked through the woods off-trail to try to find the owl,” Jill Mahar said. “After a while we were all pretty far from each other and I decided it was a lost cause because Barred Owls’ camouflage is so good and if it didn’t want to be found it just wouldn’t be.
“I then heard faint ‘peep peeps,’ like the call of a spring peeper, and thought I would look for it while I was out walking around. After a minute of looking for the frog, I FOUND THE OWL! The Barred Owl was actually ‘peeping,’ which I have never heard before.”
She said she watched the bird for several minutes and waited for backup. When her team got close enough, she called them over.
Jill, who started at Connecticut Audubon as a volunteer when she was a teen said “I tried to scare it out into the open area first by just walking up to it as close as I could but that did not work because it was no longer moving.
John Laiacone slipped under the bushes and covered the owl in a towel he had brought. Owls, hawks and other injured or trapped birds often become calm and less stressed when covered in a towel or other piece of soft fabric. In this case, it also prevented the owl from flapping and further damaging its injured wing.
With the bird safely covered in the towel, they drove it to Wildlife in Crisis, a non-profit in Weston that cares for injured raptors and other wildlife.
Peter Reid, the assistant director at Wildlife in Crisis, said the Barred Owl had suffered feather damage and was in reasonably good shape. He said the Barred Owl probably will spend the winter there and that there’s a 50-50 chance it will recover enough to be released back into the wild in the spring.
Connecticut Audubon sends its thanks to the two hikers, who left after showing the video.