September 1, 2011 at 8:39 a.m.
The owl suffered a slight injury to his wing, which had healed nicely over a week's stay at the Raptor Center, in St. Paul. The next step was to return him to his stomping grounds. Release is usually most successful if it takes place near where a bird of prey is found, and that's how Shafer area resident Ron Fish came to be on the school grounds on a Friday afternoon.
Fish stood in the shade, with a wooden box on the picnic table next to him. Clucking sounds coming from the box were the owl's way of expressing his discomfort, he explained.
Wearing heavy work gloves Fish reached into the box, clutched the owl's feet, and lifted the lid all the way. Carrying the owl to the edge of the field close to Little Green Lake, the bird had no problem taking wing above the treeline and disappearing over the bay next to the school.
The Horned Owl wears a Raptor Center leg band as a souvenir of his adventure.
Fish has been volunteering with the Raptor Center for many years and said he is one of 200 or so volunteers who help with all sorts of Raptor Center tasks. The center was established in 1974 and will house about 700 birds of prey annually.
Fish said he greatly enjoys the "flight crew" assignment; a duty that volunteers work their way up to, where he exercises birds at various stages of their recovery. Fish has also released numerous Cooper hawks and other smaller raptor species near his rural Shafer home, he said.
The Raptor Center is busy this time of year with scheduled appearances at the State Fair DNR building and providing birds and handlers at four educational sessions daily at the Renaissance Fair.
The center also holds its "fall release" in Hastings, on the river, soon.
Sponsored by 3M, the release this year is at Carpenter St. Croix River-Nature Center, September 24, beginning at 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.
The non-profit center can always use public support.
If you want to learn more go to www.raptor.cvm.umn.edu. The mailing address is 1920 Fitch Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55108.
Commenting has been disabled for this item.