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Baby owl rescued at Luna Mansion

Article Date: 2009-04-29   Source: http://www.news-bulletin.com   Comments: 0

By Clara Garcia

Los Lunas, New Mexico, U.S.A. - As the Torres family continues to renovate the historic Luna Mansion, they're also doing their part in protecting the wildlife surrounding the property.

On Friday, Pete Torres discovered that a baby great horned owl had fallen from its nest in a large cottonwood tree. The owl, which was named Solomon by the family, was too young to fly back up to its home and was in need of help.

Pete's wife, Hortencia, said that they had noticed the owls for several weeks while they've been working on the mansion.

"We've been watching them in the trees, and, of course, the workers are on the roof and they've seen them up there," Hortencia said. "It was really windy on Friday, and it just fell out of the tree."

The owl had fallen onto the ditchbank west of the mansion, Pete said. Not knowing what to do, but wanting to help the bird, Pete left the owl alone but put a bowl of water nearby just in case.

"We had a few friends come over, Darrell and Lisa Keys, and they knew of this nature conservatory that we could take it to," Hortencia said. "So on Saturday morning, they took it and it (the owl) was given an IV to hydrate it and they brought it back today (Monday) and said we could put it back in the nest."

The owl was put into a cardboard box lined with newspaper taken to the Wildlife Rescue Inc. of New Mexico, an all-volunteer non-profit organization in Albuquerque. Pete said while the bird was uninjured, it was still too young to fly back up to its nest. The volunteers at the rescue estimated the owl to be about 3 weeks old.

"They said that he was at the age where they call it branching when they just come out of the nest and start looking around," Pete said. "They said that he was probably going to start flying any day now."

To reunite the baby owl with its family, the Torreses rented a crane that would reach the nest, which was situated in a hollowed out portion of the cottonwood tree. With the Torres' granddaughters, 9-year-old Mai Ly Torres-Baker and 12-year-old Noa Torres-Baker, along for the ride in the crane, Ronnie Baker and Wally Gurule carefully placed the young bird back in its nest.

But before the task even began, the bird's mother flew from the nest and circled up above, keeping a close eye on the action.

"We saw the mother fly away, and I think it was a little bit better because I think she might have been a little protective if she stayed and would have pecked a little bit," Noa said of her experience. "Then we saw either his brother or sister in the nest and Ronnie just set Solomon up in the nest."

Noa said once the bird was safely in its nest, it began to climb the tree before settling down.

"I think it knew it was his home, and he felt comfortable," Noa said.

Noa's little sister, Mai Ly, said she thought the whole experience was "really cool" but was a little frightened when the mama bird flew away.

"I thought she was going to land on us," Mai Ly said.

Earl Whittemore, the former owner of the Luna Mansion, said there has been an owl population on the property for as long as he can remember. In fact, he said, this isn't the first time a young owl has fallen from its nest.

He remembers in the '70s that another family of owls was situated in a tree in front of the mansion.

"We had one fall out and we put it back, but I think it was rejected because we found it dead the next day," Whittemore recalls. "I remember thinking that, because there was more than one in the nest, they were fighting over food and it was a typical situation where the strong survive and the weaker one got thrown out of the nest."

As of Tuesday, Solomon the owl was still up in the tree, and Hortencia and Pete Torres, along with their granddaughters, are elated they were able to save the bird.

"We just felt that nature is so precious and beautiful," Hortencia said. "It's just really special."

Disclaimer: This article has been reproduced from http://www.news-bulletin.com and placed here for comment. OwlPages.com is not responsible for the accuracy of any information in this article, and does not necessarily agree with the author's opinions.

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