Owl wise to get help from avian rescue centre

Although it may not have a name, a baby owl at the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society (MARS) is getting a special amount of attention.

An owlet is held by Maj Birch of the Merville-based Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society.

An owlet is held by Maj Birch of the Merville-based Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society.

Although it may not have a name, a baby owl at the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society (MARS) is getting a special amount of attention.

The owlet, whose sex is still unknown, has been in the care of the wildlife recovery organization in Merville, following specialized surgery to repair a broken leg after it fell out of a tree.

“It was found at the base of a tree in a wildlife area by some folks who were walking on a trail. It’s leg was angulated and fractured for some time, and began to heal in that position,” explained Maj Birch, manager of the MARS Wildlife Centre.

She believes the baby owl had fallen out of the nest while its parents continued to feed it, and with the exception of its leg, is in good condition.

The owlet received specialized surgery earlier this month, where veterinarian Dr. Stacey Gastis removed bone and inserted pins in order for the leg to heal in the correct position.

Nearly three weeks later, the owlet is recovering at MARS, where Birch says recovery is going well.

“It’s in pretty good shape. The trauma was quite severe, and the leg was kept (sticking) out for some time,” she added. “He’s quite young and quite vital. As long as we continue to feed him, that’s good. But if he’s able to feed himself, that’s the big question.”

The baby owl is attending physiotherapy three times a week and growing more everyday — a really good sign, said Birch.

“It wants to do what all young owlets should be doing, flapping his wings and trying to fly. The ability to use its leg is what’s holding it back,” she explained.

“As a rehabilitator, we have to question, will he actually be able to survive in the wild, and live a normal existence? With a broken leg, it may affect the way it could hunt and supply food for its offspring. He definitely has a tough go at the beginning of his life.”

With the removal of the leg pins and more physiotherapy ahead, Birch says the if everything goes as planned, they are hoping they could release the owlet back into the wild this fall.

If they determine the baby cannot survive on its own, MARS can apply to the government for a permit to keep the owlet as an educational bird.

For more information about MARS, or to donate to their rehabilitation efforts, visit www.wingbeats.info.

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