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Rehab & Release 2023 
We took in 88 raptors this year representing 20 species!

Great Gray Owl

Mid-November, some observant people found this owl standing alongside the road not able to fly well. It appeared to have a head injury with trauma observed on the beak and cere. It wasn’t eating on its own, so assist feeding was required. It started getting up on a perch within a day or two, and on Thanksgiving Day, it started to eat on its own – what a great Thanksgiving Day treat! By the next week, it was moved to the 40 ft chamber to see how the balance and flight ability were after the head injury. It took to flying right away and within a couple hours had the landings down. Eating and flying continued for another week before it was deemed ready to release. We picked a release day when the weather was good, and the people who had originally found it were available as well as some of the volunteers that had helped in its recovery. It had a good release flight – flying a short distance to a fence post where it sat for quite a while getting its bearings. At that point, it had a long flight to a group of trees and that was the last we could see it. Our hearts may have been stolen, but they were singing to see the owl return home. 

Northern Harrier Chick

At the end of June, we got a call from a gal in the St Ignatius area that said they found a Northern Harrier chick when they were cutting their fields. It was too young to be alone and Northern Harriers nest on the ground, making a nest difficult to find. No parents were spotted looking for it, so they called us. The right wing was a little bunged up, but it seemed in good health. It was not eating on its own yet, so assist feeding was started giving small amounts of food several times a day. It grew and thrived – we enjoyed watching the feathers come in as they changed its overall look and character.  It was moved to a larger chamber, where it figured out eating on its own and started trying to fly. As flying got better it was moved to the 40 ft flight chamber where it could practice and gain strength. Northern Harriers are very agile and maneuverable in flight – impressive to watch. By September it was ready to try life back in the wild. It had a great flight and was released in an area known to have Northern Harriers. Thank you concerned citizens for helping this bird – it could not have made it without your help!

Juvenile Bald Eagle

In early April 2023, we admitted a juvenile bald eagle that had been hit by a vehicle on the highway towards Libby. It arrived having little use of one leg &no use of the other. Nothing appeared broken, leaving us to believe something was going on with the back or pelvis – both very difficult injuries for a bird to recover from. We started doing laser treatments and gently stretching to work the legs. The x-rays and exam by Dr Lawson from Glacier Animal Hospital didn’t show anything broken or out of place. There was no improvement in the legs at this point and often birds don’t recover from this type of injury, however slowly and in small ways the eagle started improving. By May it was making progress on standing, first using its wings to help support itself and gaining control of one leg. In a couple more weeks, it was standing fairly well on both legs and was regaining its balance. One leg was not working well yet, but it was moved to a larger chamber to give more room to move and strengthen everything. By June, it had figured out how to eat and was using both feet, could get up and down the ramp to the perch. It was moved to the flight barn to regain flying strength. It started flying very quickly but took a few days to stick the landings with precision. The middle of July it was strong and ready to give free life a try again. We released it in a safe spot near where it had come from. It had a great release flying well, rounding a corner, and never looking back. A big thanks to Deb, one of our lead volunteers who spent countless hours nursing this eagle back to health.

You can see a video of the release here!

Juvenile Great Horned Owl

Life sometimes starts out hard for young birds. In mid May, a juvenile Great Horned Owl was brought to us from the Ronan area. It had been on the ground, no parents were attending to it and when some hawks started harassing it, the homeowner brought it to us. On admittance the right wing was found be broken, it was dehydrated and hungry. The wing was wrapped, given hydration and offered food which it readily accepted. It was fairly young, so after the wing was mended it was given extra time to grow and prepare for life to come. It began learning to fly and hunt for itself. Finally by mid July it was flying well and had the skills it needed to be released. The release was fast as it flew off and took a hard right turn into the trees - happy to be back where it belonged. Thank you homeowner for paying attention and helping this young owl!

Bald Eagle

This winter a bald eagle came in from the Condon area via a past volunteer with a wing that appeared out of whack but not broken. Dr. Lawson from Glacier Animal Hospital made arrangements to fit the eagle in for an x-ray, which showed the wing was dislocated at the elbow. Raptor wing dislocations are very uncommon to deal with, but he was able to pop it back into place. The wing was then wrapped to let whatever was stretched out mend. There were no guarantees, but we were hopeful it would stay put. When it was unwrapped a few weeks later, the elbow appeared to have stayed in place. The wing got some laser treatment & some physical therapy to help with the stiffness and regain the mobility. The next step was the flight barn - to regain flying strength. This took a couple months. It is always amazing & joyful to see the eagles realize when they can make it to the upper perches. End to end flights with precision landings indicated it was ready to go home. A meeting with the past volunteer was arranged and release was a success. Thank you Dr. Lawson for your enthusiasm and experience!

Red-tailed Hawk

The first week of February, when the weather was particularly winter-like, a mature Red-tailed hawk came to us underweight and dehydrated. It didn't want to stand or eat for a few days, so we were not sure it was going to make it. It did have the will to live and by the end of the week, it was standing better and eating on its own. By the next week, it was on the upper perch and thinking all this available food was a wonder. Upon moving to the 40 flight chamber, it wasn't sure it was ready to do any flying, but after a few days of encouragement it took to the air. By the end of the third week, it was strong, full and ready to go, but the weather had us wait a little longer. Finally the last Monday in February had a sunny break in the weather, so Barbara, Leslie and Jennifer met the landowner where it was found and let it go home. It was thrilled to be done with us! Thanks MWWRC volunteers and landowner for helping this hawk!

Great Horned Owl

At the end of December 2022 we admitted a great horned owl that had had a scuffle with a barb wire fence. The landowner thoughtfully cut the fence to rescue the owl and called CSKT FWP who delivered it to us. The barb wire was still attached to the wing, but had fortunately only been tangled in the feathers. Feathers were missing and some bare skin was exposed but there were no big tears. The barb wire was removed and the bare skin treated. It weighed 4+ lbs, so were believe it was a female and other than the barb wire incident appeared healthy and in good shape. She was given a few days of restricted activity before moving her to the 40 ft flight chamber. She started flying immediately and was doing multiple laps in a day. She was eating and flying well, so she was ready to go. CSKT FWP wardens were gracious enough to escort her back to the neighborhood she came from - coming into breeding season we hope she has a mate waiting for her return. If she does, there will have some stories to tell when they meet up again! Thank you landowner for sacrificing a piece of the fence to rescue her and CSKT FWP for being the transporters!

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