Rehabilitated owl released in Columbiana

Great Horned Owl released on March 1 after three months of rehabilitation (Contributed)

Great Horned Owl released on March 1 after two months of rehabilitation (Contributed)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON/Staff Writer

After two months of rehabilitation at the Alabama Wildlife Center, a healthy adult male Great Horned Owl was released from the Summer Hill community in Columbiana on Saturday, March 1.

Holly Connell found the owl caught in a barbed wire fence in the Summer Hill community on Jan. 5. Her father, Wayne Gould, cut the injured owl free and brought him to the Alabama Wildlife Center in Oak Mountain State Park.

The Alabama Wildlife Center, Alabama’s oldest and largest wildlife rehabilitation facility, treats almost 2,000 birds from more than 100 species each year, including many owls. “We get a lot of owls this time of year. Right now we’re treating owls from four different species,” said Executive Director Doug Adair.

Owls rescued from barbed wire fences are often difficult to rehabilitate and face low survival rates. “Raptors like these typically break bones and severely hurt themselves struggling to escape barbed fences,” said Adair.

Fortunately, exams revealed the owl did not break any bones; he suffered minor injuries to his right wing and soft tissue damage to his left wing. The Alabama Wildlife Center immediately treated the wounds with antibacterial gel and bandaged the wings. The owl was placed in a calm recovery space to limit his stress and mobility and promote healing.

As his condition improved, the owl was moved through the Alabama Wildlife Center’s progression of small to large enclosed healing spaces until he was ready for release on March 1. “We are very careful to keep a bird until it is ready to face the challenges that exist in the wild,” said Adair. “The owl was able to fly, capture live prey and fend for himself.”

For territorial reasons, the rehabilitated owl was released from the place he was found by Gould, his rescuer. “He flew up and right into the woods,” said Adair.

“If you come across an injured bird or animal, give the Alabama Wildlife Center a call,” said Adair. “We can guide you through the process.” Additional information can be found on the Alabama Wildlife Center website at www.awrc.org.