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Guarding of Eden: Young owl receives loving care at wildlife centre


HILDEN, N.S. – Dr. Helene Van Doninck has a testy patient who hisses and clicks every time he sees her.

And she thinks it’s great.

The Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre’s first baby of the spring is a great horned owl nestling, called Eden.

That intolerance for people could save the bird’s life when he is returned to the wild.

The little owl was cold and hungry when found on a golf course near Lawrencetown Wednesday. No adults could be found in the area so the department of natural resources was called and they delivered the bird to Van Doninck.

“He was a little thin and cold and not very active when he arrived,” she said. “He was probably out of the nest a day or more. He’s too young to be away from body heat but he improved 100 per cent overnight.”

He was given water and soft food with a syringe to help rehydrate and then placed in an incubator.

The owl is a couple of weeks old and shows no evidence of injury so Van Doninck suspects he may have been blown out of his nest. Nest mates will sometimes push a weak bird from their home, but they are usually in worse condition.

Because Eden has been exposed to his parents he recognizes the shape of an owl, so a stuffed owl and mirror have been placed with him. To prevent him from becoming too accustomed to people, a sheet has been placed over the incubator door and he is fed with the help of an owl puppet.

“Owls are easier than song birds to feed,” said Van Doninck. “Parents would tear off little strips of things like mice to feed them so that’s what we’re doing now. We’re feeding him every few hours but will soon just be able to leave food there for him to eat.”

Eden will remain in the incubator until he has enough feathers to keep warm. When he is large enough he will be placed in a large enclosure with two great horned owls who are not tame but have wing injuries that prevent them from being released.

“We hope they will be his foster parents and teach him about behaviour,” said Van Doninck. “He will be with us into the summer. When you see the little horns coming up it’s the cutest stage ever.”

 

lynn.curwin@tc.tc

Eden

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