Wednesday, September 27, 2006

My First Owl

I'm a transport volunteer at The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota. That means if you find an injured raptor and can't bring it in yourself for treatment, and are located somewhere within a 4 hour radius of the Twin Cities, I might be the one who gets the phone call to pick up the bird and bring it to the clinic.

Most of the birds I have brought in have been Cooper's hawks this year. There have been a couple of red tails too. For a while, it seemed like every bird I brought in wasn't making it. I brought in a Cooper's Hawk recently that had gotten whacked by an uncovered fan blade at a fabricator's plant that has multiple 20 foot high doors, so it can move the massive objects it makes in and out. The triage team had written the bird off as a lost cause, but the vet decided he was going to work on the bird. Whether he thought it would make a good teaching subject, or was taking pity on me, I don't know, but I try to keep a game face on when I transport the birds. They do fantastic work at the clinic, and they do not need any one else's emotions compounding their own reactions when they lose a patient.

I got a call a little while ago asking that I pick up a Northern Saw-whet Owl at Northwest Cargo. I hadn't done a pick up at the airport before - it turned out to be not a very involved process. I looked quickly through the slots in the kennel at the little creature, careful to look sidelong, hoping this would appear less like a predator's gaze. The little gal looked quite well. I was glad. I wasn't quite sure what to expect of a tiny bird that had just been flown from Nebraska to Minnesota. I learned at the clinic that my little friend was, in fact, quite fine. She had been rehabbed in Nebraska and was ready for release. The trip to Minnesota was timed so that she could join the rest of the flood of saw-whets coming through Minnesota about now. I was tickled by the thought of it - a tiny little ball of fluff weighing only about 3 ounces, marshalling the services of a NWA jet and a variety of chauffeurs to bring it North so that she can go South.

No comments: