A great horned owl, rescued from a barbed wire fence on the North Fork in Three Rivers, is on the mend and could be released near where it became entangled as soon as early January. On Friday, Dec. 4, an unidentified 911 caller reported the struggling bird.
A volunteer from Critter Creek Wildlife Station was summoned by the Tulare County Sheriff’s dispatcher to the scene. Bruce Lowe, a Critter Creek volunteer who lives in Exeter, removed the large owl from the barbed wire that had ensnared most of the feathers on the bird’s left wing.
“We still have the owl, and he’s doing a whole lot better than when Bruce brought the bird in,” reported Dan Turner who, with Louise Culver, looks after the Squaw Valley wildlife sanctuary.
Turner said it’s not uncommon for these large birds to become tangled in fencing. They hunt at night, making the wires hard to see as they swoop down for prey.
“In most cases, the wing is badly damaged or broken and we have to put the bird down,” Turner said. “With this owl, there was some bruising and torn tissue but those injuries should be healed in about a month.”
With its long, earlike tufts, intense yellow-eyed stare, and deep hooting voice, the Great Horned Owl is the quintessential owl of storybooks. This powerful predator can take down birds and mammals even larger than itself, but it also dines on daintier fare such as tiny scorpions, mice, and frogs.
This one of the most common owls in North America, equally at home in deserts, wetlands, forests, grasslands, backyards, cities, and almost any other semi-open habitat between the Arctic and the tropics. Although common, they are not often seen since they are nocturnal.
In case of a wildlife emergency in the San Joaquin Valley or southern Sierra foothills, call Critter Creek at (559) 338-2415. For more information about Critter Creek, log onto www.crittercreek.org.