Bird making recovery at Salmonier Nature Park
© Derek Montague
The injured great horned owl, just before being loaded onto a PAL/Innu Mikun Airlines flight, bound for Salmonier Nature Park.
An injured great horned owl is making a recovery at Salmonier Nature Park, thanks to the good will, and quick thinking, of several Labrador residents.
Frank Phillips, who used to be the province’s regional ecologist for Labrador, was at home in Northwest River Sunday, when he received a call from a Goose Bay resident. Phillips was told that a gentleman had come across a hurt owl on the Northwest River highway (Route 520), and needed some help.
Even though Phillips recently retired, people still call him up when there’s a situation involving local wildlife.
“Oh I still get lots of calls at home and stuff like that…injured animals, poaching reports; you name it, I get it all,” says Phillips.
Phillips and his son Anautak drove up the highway and met with the man who found the injured creature. After seeing the bird and it’s surrounding, Phillips assumed that it had hit a wire between the fibre optic poles and injured one of its wings.
Although the owl couldn’t fly, it could still dodge around the willows to avoid Frank and his son from putting a blanket over her.
“We actually had a bit of a difficult time catching it because. It was running through the thick willows faster than we could almost. So it’s quite healthy, just can’t use its wing,” says Phillips.
After finally getting a blanket over it, the owl calmed down. Phillips and Anautak put the bird in a cardboard box and brought it home for the night. For supper, the two men gave it moose meat to feed on.
The next morning, Phillips’ eldest son, Joseph, transported the owl to the provincial wildlife office in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, where it was put into a proper cage.
Phillips knew that the best option for the owl to get treatment was at the Salmonier Nature Park, located on the Avalon Peninsula. But how would they be able to transport it there? Phillips decided to see if Provincial Airlines/Innu Mikun Airlines could provide transportation.
He quickly got on the phone with Tom Randell, managing director of Innu Mikun Airlines, who agreed to give the injured owl a lift.
By 12 p.m. that same day, She was on her way to Salmonier Nature Park. Later on, Rodney Collins, an animal care technician at the Park, emailed Phillips and others about the Owl’s health.
In the email, Collins said that the owl had lost 32% of its body weight, but that he should be able to treat the bird’s injured wing. He also congratulated those who helped the animal make it to the Park in its time of need.
“…I found some blood on the wrist of the right wing and when I
extended it the bird reacted. I was actually glad to find this injury
because I know now what happened to the bird that caused it to be
emaciated and it is something that we can treat not like a disease etc,” wrote Collins.
“Everyone deserves a pat on the back for their efforts. I was amazed how
fast the arrangements were made and carried out. It may have made the
difference for this bird…”