Owls bring people together

By on August 14, 2009

Contributed by Janet Doherty of Sugar Grove
Sugar Grove/Elburn—I know I have always talked about how wonderful it is to live in a rural setting and today was no exception. During the past several weeks we have been listening to two Great Horned Owls carry on conversations through the night and sometimes into the wee hours of the morning.

Our neighbors, Brian and Cindy Babka, have been following the pair of juvenile owls around our neighborhood since the first time they heard the screeching. Brian armed himself with a high-powered light and tracked the birds to the many rooftops of their neighbors. Other families in the neighborhood have joined in and taken an interest in the pair of owls, following them around just to get a glimpse of their beauty. Little did my neighbor, Michele Bruno, know she would get an up-close and personal meeting with one of the two owls.

On the morning of Aug. 5, as she walked around the house, she noticed the large, brown bird floating in her pool. Its head was not submerged and it was still alive, neck deep in water. Not knowing what to do, Michele called her neighbor over to help assess the situation. The two immediately started calling rescue agency after rescue agency only to find none of them were able to help and if they might have been able to assist, it would have been too late to save the bird. Fearing they could further injure the bird or injure themselves, Michele luckily tracked down Sugar Grove Police Officer, Tom Barna.

Officer Barna called for assistance and another officer arrived on the scene. Together the two officers were able to rescue the owl from the water by placing a noose over the bird’s neck and gently placing it into a lidded box. Knowing just what the owl needed, Officer Barna called the Fox Valley Wildlife Center in Elburn, who then graciously took the scared, drenched owl into its care. A few hours had passed and our curiosity could not be contained, we needed to know what happened to our neighborhood owl. We called the Fox Valley Wildlife Center and listened to the hours but didn’t understand that the hospital is not open to the public. Upon seeing the faces of our kids huddled around the doorway, the staff couldn’t help but provide us with a picture of our friend in his cage. They gave us as much information that they could about his condition.

We learned that the owl must have been trying to catch something to eat out of the pool and for some reason ended up getting his feathers too wet. The wet feathers prevented him from getting out of the water and basically held him hostage until he was rescued. The owl was dehydrated and scared but for the most part he was completely healthy. No broken wings or any maladies to worry about. The hospital staff plans on keeping the owl for approximately a week and then releasing it back into the wild. One of our biggest concerns was that this young owl would desperately miss his sibling back at Hannaford Farm. So we kindly requested that when he is ready for life back in the wild suburbs, that he could be released back where he was found.

No, not back at the pool but back at the barn where we believe the owls are living.

To everyone’s delight they staff of the Fox Valley Wildlife Center agrees with this philosophy and hopes to have him returned home as soon as our friend the owl is eating his mice and gaining strength again.

Many people had a hand in insuring this animal was saved from certain death and we are all personally thankful. It is fortunate that we have a place like the Fox Valley Wildlife Center that cares for wounded animals. A special thank you goes to the Sugar Grove Officers who put aside normal protocol and rescued this beautiful animal. In turn they helped a scared homeowner who had run out of options and then thoughtfully brought our neighborhood owl to a place where it could be cared for.