Snowy owl off to rehabilitation centre

Carla Allen
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Rehabilitation looks promising for a snowy owl rescued from a barbed wire fence in Chebogue Point on Dec. 21.

The owl spent two days in the Department of Natural Resources lab in Tusket and was then transferred to the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Brookfield.

Duncan Bayne, biologist for the Western Region, said the owl was examined and no broken bones were found, however her flesh was torn around the wing where she was hanging.

“We think she can be rehabilitated in three to four weeks time,” he said.

Bayne says they have received many reports of snowy owls in the area.

“Sadly, a lot of them are young birds and some are emaciated,” he said.

Paul Willison and his son Matthew were hoping to photograph snowy owls when they discovered the bird. Finding one dangling from a barbed wire fence wasn’t what they had in mind.

The Willisons and Matthew’s girlfriend Bonnie Scott tried to free the owl, but it wasn’t until others arrived on the scene to help that they were successful.

The Department of Natural Resources was contacted and a wildlife technician arrived to take the owl to the Tusket depot.

The experience was one that Paul Willison won’t soon forget. 

“She was so calm after we got her out of there,” he said.

“I sat in the truck and held her for 45 minutes. She never thrashed at all.”

The owl’s eyes were fascinating - yellow with black pupils that appeared to be sunk into the eyeball. A nictitating membrane closed from left to right.

“It reminded me of a camera shutter,” said Willison.

“She just sat there and looked at me. If you turned her body, the head would stay right there, looking at you. I was tempted to take her home. But I didn’t want to take her home to watch her die,” he said.

The Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre was founded, and is operated by, a wildlife veterinarian. The facility has special expertise in wildlife medicine, and raptor, seabird and oiled wildlife rehabilitation.

This is the first live snowy owl to be brought to the Tusket depot. More updates on the rehabilitation of this bird will be published in coming weeks.


Organizations: Department of Natural Resources, Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre

Geographic location: Tusket, Brookfield

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Recent comments

  • Karen Porter
    December 23, 2013 - 18:55

    This owl is in great hands. CWRC does fantastic work. You can find them on facebook & on their own website. I'm sure you will see photos & videos on this beautiful owl.

  • Crystal Copeland
    December 23, 2013 - 15:52

    I was very happy to see this bird taken to a rehabilitation centre , have been following this story and kidos to those who rescured her . Thank you