Before leaving Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge a few weeks ago, I encountered a Great Horned Owl that appeared to fly toward me intending harm, as I wrote in the last blog entry. But was the owl swooping in my direction for an attack, or did it have another objective in mind? Was it looking toward me not as food, but for food?
“We may need to edit my original comments,” says Assistant Manager Stan Culling at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. “It turns out this bird may have a different origin.”
As Chuck and I hitched up and left the Refuge for the season the day after the incident, the owl remained near the Visitor Center, continuing its calls. “We finally decided to capture it,” says Refuge Manager Sally Flatland, “and bring it to a rehabilitator in Tucson, as we could see that it was not doing well and probably had not eaten for a while.”
After examination, the consensus was that the owl had been raised by humans and most likely had been dropped off at the Refuge. Although it was unable to feed on its own, it readily accepted a mouse from the hand of the rehabilitator.
So did I look like its original owner? Perhaps the owl flew toward me as a tame bird would come to its trainer seeking a meal. It may have expected me to hold out my arm as a perch for landing.
But thanks to the caring staff at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, the owl is now in good hands and will be managed as an education animal. In that position, the owl will become an ambassador for its species and a valuable tool for wildlife conservation.
“I’m glad we were able to save it,” Sally added.
Releasing animals into the wild is not advisable and may even be illegal in certain areas, as we have written in a previous blog article. Harm may come to that animal, as well as to other wildlife or humans.