Whether sifting through sand, or scrambling over a rocky shore, it's about finding treasures in every day. 

Owl Rehab at the Alaska Raptor Center

Remember the little owl that we medivaced off of Prince of Wales Island to the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka? Good news! He's okay!

Raptor Center personnel met him at the airport, transported him to the facility, unboxed him, and gave him a thorough checkup. Part of that exam was an x-ray to check if bones had been broken in the collision.

I hope none of you are offended by this online naked picture of our little screech owl!

Full body x-ray of a screech owl. Photo courtesy of Jen Cedarleaf, Avian Rehabilitation Coordinator, Alaska Raptor Center

Thorne at his exam at the Alaska Raptor Center. Photo courtesy of Jen Cedarleaf, Avian Rehabilitation Coordinator, Alaska Raptor Center.

The professionals at the Raptor Center are pretty sure that the owl is male, and they gave him a name: Thorne. He is from Thorne Bay! The name might be just a little bit of a hint about his personality, also, as I have heard Jen say that he is 'spunky.' Yep, he tried to bite me, too. I think that we both agree that self defense a good trait in a wild owl.

Jen said that Thorne is a bit unusual because of his red-brown color. Usually the screech owls here in Southeast Alaska are grey-phase.

 Alaska Raptor Rehabilitation Center facility in Sitka. Photo courtesy of the Alaska Raptor Center.

Alaska Raptor Rehabilitation Center facility in Sitka. Photo courtesy of the Alaska Raptor Center.

The feisty bugger is woofing down mice for breakfast and lunch. Thorne is a bit underweight - only 190 grams (6.7 ounces) - so they are feeding him until he is in good shape to survive in the wild. When he fattens up a little bit then he will be released.

It is so-o-o good to know that the Alaska Raptor Center is doing such great work!

 

 The Flight Training Center at the Alaska Raptor Rehabilitation Center. Photo courtesy of the Alaska Raptor Center.

The Flight Training Center at the Alaska Raptor Rehabilitation Center. Photo courtesy of the Alaska Raptor Center.

Sitting on 17 acres in beautiful Sitka-by-the-sea, the Raptor Center has been busy fixing up injured and sick birds of prey for 34 years. I was at the center about ten years ago, and it was amazing! GO! Really. There is a beautiful building with interesting installations throughout, and best of all you get to see the resident birds much more closely than you would see birds in the wild.

The Flight Training Center is SO cool. It is a big space for recuperating eagles where they can fly, practice their balance on the rope (it is like sitting on a tree branch in the wind), and move around on the ground. You can look into this beautiful enclosure without the eagles seeing you.

The vast majority of the birds treated at the Alaska Raptor Center are released, but some are injured badly enough that they would not make it in the wild. Those are the resident birds. They live in good enclosures around the Raptor Center. A few of the resident birds help with educational outreach by making appearances with their handlers at seminars and public events, and in classrooms.

Lacie holding an immature bald eagle in a presentation at the Alaska Raptor Center. Photo courtesy of the Alaska Raptor Center.

This amazed me: The Alaska Raptor Center doesn't increase your taxes. It is not supported by city, state, or federal tax dollars. Visitors and caring people make this facility work through memberships, donations, purchases, and visitor programs. In return the Raptor Center provides not only rehabilitation of over 200 birds per year, they also do training and research , and give classroom presentations all across the nation.

There's a whole bunch more, but as much as I love the Alaska Raptor Center I need to stop gushing. Just trust me, it's great. Go visit them in Sitka! Check out their website. There's some nuts and bolts at the bottom of this page.

Let's go to another really fun part; releasing the fixed up birds!

Releasing a healed mature bald eagle back into the wild. Photo courtesy of the Alaska Raptor Center.

Immature bald eagle released after rehabilitation. Photo courtesy of the Alaska Raptor Center.

What an exhilarating moment! I want to fly to Sitka for the release of Thorne! Okay, that is probably not in the cards, but  Jen will let me know when Thorne is through rehab and heads out to be a wild owl again. No more free mice. It's serious work being a bird of prey - even a little, cute one.

I'll let you know when Thorne is out and about again!

Wishing you a moment to feel wind through your feathers,

Alaska Beachcomber

 

The start of Thorne's story: Owl Medivac

More on Alaskan Critters HERE.

 

Some ways to support the great work that the Alaska Raptor Center does: