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Barred owl is free to fly again

Article Date: 2010-11-04   Source: http://www.gazettetimes.com   Comments: 0

By Raju Woodward

Corvallis, Oregon, U.S.A. - Jeff Picton slowly lifted the barred owl out of the portable pet carrier. After briefly flapping its wings, the grayish-brown bird relaxed and scanned the familiar surroundings of the Corvallis Country Club on Wednesday afternoon. A few seconds later, at the count of three, Picton released the owl. It quickly glided up into the branches of a tree about 30 feet away.

"The barred owl isn't a native species," said Picton, the executive director of Chintimini Wildlife Center. "But we are starting to see more of them. This is the fourth or fifth one we had this year."

Picton said the brown-eyed barred owls are migrating to the Western United States because of habitat loss in their native range. They are more adaptable than other owls - including the threatened Northern spotted owl, into whose territory they're encroaching.

The barred owl Picton released Wednesday suffered a concussion after crashing against the window of the pro shop at the Corvallis Country Club on Oct. 26. The dazed owl was taken the same day to the Chintimini Wildlife Center for treatment.

"It had been sitting there for several hours," said Matt Notdurft, who works at the country club pro shop. "I knew something was wrong with it because people kept petting it, and it didn't react."

Notdurft picked up the owl and put it into a box for transport to the wildlife center. He was part of a small group of country club employees who petted the owl one last time before Picton released it.

Picton said the owl has made a full recovery and will be fine once it gets used to being in the wild again. He said he was unsure of the adult bird's age, but is more certain of its gender.

"We are guessing it's a female because of its size and weight," Picton said. "Female barred owls tend to be larger than the males."

Picton also offered several theories about why the owl would have crashed into the pro shop window. The owl could have seen the reflection of vegetation in the window, might have been chased by a predator or might have been competing with another owl for a mate.

"We do have a lot of red-tailed hawks around here," said Mike Litwin, the general manager of the Corvallis Country Club. "We also see a lot of owls, too. They really seem to like it around here."

Picton said the barred owl competes with the threatened native spotted owl, but the two species also intermingle, producing a hybrid species known as the "sparred owl." Picton said what's unique about sparred owls is that they can reproduce, unlike most hybrid species.

"They are competitors; but they are also lovers," Picton said. "So maybe this is Mother Nature's way of helping things balance out."

Disclaimer: This article has been reproduced from http://www.gazettetimes.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.

Related Articles:
2008-09-02 - Oregon study: inbreeding threatens spotted owls - Corvallis, Oregon, U.S.A.
2004-05-14 - Spotted Owl Groups Defined with Genetics - Corvallis, Oregon, U.S.A.

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