The man who saved a Barred Owl from a murder of crows this past Monday says he wasn’t the only one involved in the rescue.
The man, Tom Walker, was tipped off about the owl by Gale, another Terrace resident who only wants her first name used, who had found the owl caught in a soccer net earlier that morning at Christy Park.
She was walking her dog in Christy Park and found the bird hanging upside down, with a wing sticking out and net tangled around its head and feet.
“I thought he was going to die,” said Gale.
It took her half an hour to untangle the bird, balancing on one leg and bracing up the owl with her other leg to keep it from being strangled.
Gale said she set the owl on the ground and left it for a few minutes, thinking it just needed to recover from hanging upside down.
When she came back, the owl hadn’t moved.
Gale says she needed to get home but wanting to protect the owl from dogs or other predators, she picked it up again and braced it up in a nearby tree.
“He seemed to know me,” she said. “That sounds crazy, but he didn’t get scared at all.”
Gale named the owl Hardly because he was “hardly alive and hardly made it.”
Later she saw Walker walking his own dog and asked him to check for Hardly if he went by Christy Park.
Walker says he went to the park an hour later and checked for Hardly in the tree, but didn’t see it.
“On the far side of the field when I got there, I could hear the screaming of the crows, but I didn’t know what was going on,” he said.
That is when the owl burst from the trees and landed at his feet.
“It wiped out face-first right in front of me. It was so tired, it couldn’t get up,” he said.
“Its wings were completely extended and it was laying on its face… I had a dog with me so it had to be pretty desperate.”
Walker says crows gathered in the surrounding trees while he threw his jacket over the owl to protect and pondered what to do.
“There’s no handbook about what to do when a raptor falls at your feet,” he said.
He picked up Hardly and walked downtown while he pondered his next move.
When employees at the Ye Olde Chop Bloc barber shop noticed him with the owl, he walked into the shop to ask what he should do.
From there he took the owl to the provincial Conservation Office where it was checked and then shipped to the Prince Rupert Wildlife Rehab Shelter.
Shelter owner Nancy Golinia says Hardly had very minor injuries and is doing well.
He’s being treated with antibiotics and a high-protein diet to strengthen it for the winter.
In three to four weeks Hardly will be released outside of the shelter, so that it knows where to go for food if it struggles in the winter, Golinia said.