Noc­tur­nal peril

Large num­ber of owls be­ing cared for at Cobe­quid Wildlife Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre

Truro Daily News - - WILDLIFE - BY LYNN CURWIN [email protected]­daily.com

A piece of lit­ter on a road­way could be the cause for in­jury or the death for an owl. Lit­ter at­tracts ro­dents, and owls hunt ro­dents, which are easy to spot on open roads.

Lit­ter could be one of the rea­sons Cobe­quid Wildlife Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre (CWRC) has seen a lot of owls – es­pe­cially barred owls – brought in af­ter be­ing hit by ve­hi­cles re­cently. Five barred owls, and two great horned owls, are cur­rently re­ceiv­ing treat­ment at the cen­tre. All were hit by ve­hi­cles.

The CWRC also serves as a per­ma­nent home for a barred owl whose en­counter with a ve­hi­cle re­sulted in in­juries mak­ing it im­pos­si­ble for it to sur­vive in the wild.

“It’s hard to say if there are more barred owls or if we’re just see­ing them more of­ten,” said Brenda Boates, a wildlife re­ha­bil­i­ta­tor at the CWRC. “We could be see­ing more be­cause there are more roads and less habi­tat, be­cause of dis­tracted driv­ing, be­cause of the amount of trash along the roads…”

Owls pre­fer to hunt in open ar­eas. They will swoop and grab prey and con­tinue fly­ing, some­times into the path of traf­fic. Rap­tors will also eat road kill, on roads or along the shoul­der.

“Some peo­ple fo­cus straight ahead while driv­ing, but it’s im­por­tant to look around, and if you see move­ment on the shoul­der, slow down,” said Boates. “The fall time change puts dusk right into the rush hour and owls be­gin most of their hunt­ing at dusk.”

She noted owl num­bers might be up a bit this year be­cause of the good hunt­ing sit­u­a­tion last win­ter. Be­cause there wasn’t much snow, prey couldn’t hide as well.

Owls usu­ally re­quire care for sev­eral weeks, and some­times months, af­ter be­ing hit by a ve­hi­cle.

LYNN CURWIN/TRURO NEWS

Dr. Kath­leen Ma­caulay, a vol­un­teer with the Cobe­quid Wildlife Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre, ex­am­ines a barred owl that was struck by a car. The cen­tre is cur­rently car­ing for sev­eral owls that were hit by ve­hi­cles.

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