Saw Whet Owl
Nova Scotia, 2000
I was permitted the privilege of releasing two saw whet owls on my rural Nova Scotia property. The owls had been in rehabilitation for several months after suffering injury from automobiles.
At The Threshold. . .
The first owl quickly left the confines of the cage but this guy took a while to decide. After 15 minutes or so he flew strongly up the hill at the rear of my house. He perched in a fir tree and posed cooperatively for the photograph below.
Back In the Wild!
Saw whets are cavity nesters and will use flicker boxes on occasion. I had hopefully mounted a flicker nesting box on the tree nearest to where I released the owls, along with a bowl of water and a platform with some stewing beef, their primary food for the months of their rehabilitation. Neither bird, in the excitement of their release took any notice. I have not seen either since the day of their release. One bird was a weak flier and I can only hope he is able to hunt. There is no doubt about the one pictured above . This bird seemed totally capable. In fact it had been kept longer than was necessary to provide company for the more seriously injured bird.
This is the weak flier. Curiously he was the first to fly...well, at first he fluttered rather than flew. He gathered confidence quickly it seemed. The panel at left shows him at the edge of my driveway. The shot below is as I last saw him, well up in a tree and being harrassed by irate chickadees!
I had always hoped to see a saw whet but never have, until now. It is difficult to appreciate how small, beautiful and utterly perfect they are. While small, the real shock was lifting them from the rehabilitation cage to the carrier used for transport to the release point. Small as they are, they are all feathers! They weigh nothing at all! I was not able to use gloves when transferring them. The gloves were just too clumsy for such small and delicate creatures. One bird did attempt to bite me but his beak did not break my skin. . .perhaps he was not in earnest? The little talons were needle sharp and did draw a little blood from a clean puncture on my finger. This whole episode has been very exciting for me personally and I thank the rehabilitators for permitting me to be the one to release these beautiful birds.
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