Wildlife

Owls and Eagles

On Saturday I was delighted to go as a guest of the Mature Women’s Network group, of which my sister is a member, for their annual day trip.  The trip included a visit to O.W.L., the Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society in Delta, B.C.

OWL specializes in rehabilitating birds of prey (owls, eagles and hawks) that get injured.  Our visit included a fabulous educational presentation by Cara, an OWL employee, and a tour that included over 20 live birds including a snowy owl, golden eagles, and other birds of prey.

Saw Whet OwlOwls are fascinating.  Their eyes don’t move – instead, they move their entire head and many have the ability to move their heads about three quarters of the way around.  They have large ears which sit at different levels on their heads, allowing them to have sharp hearing based on triangulation.  Owls such as the Barn Owl can find their prey even in total darkness.

flying owlCara demonstrated that an eagle’s feather makes a swooshing sound, whereas an owl’s wing is silent.  Being silent fliers helps owls hunt, but their wings restrict them to low level flying, unlike eagles which are known for their soaring abilities.

If you want to see owls, you may have more luck by looking at the base of a tree for evidence, rather than trying to spot an owl in the branches.

Dangers to owls are almost all caused by humans, and there are ways you can help the birds.  If you’re throwing out the plastic rings that pop cans come in, break each ring so a bird can never get stuck in it.  If you have a bucket of water sitting outside, put a screen over it so birds can’t access it and drown.

OWL helps over 300 birds of prey, and introduces around 12,000 school children to birds, each year.  If you live outside of Vancouver, there’s probably an animal rehabilitation center near you that also does excellent work.  They deserve our support.

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Alison Wheatley

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