A Shout-out to O.W.L.

So, there is an injured hawk on your sun deck- who ya gonna call?

About a month go we were confronted with just such a situation-it was a grey, featureless day with scattered rain, and limited visibility- a good day to be indoors, so it was late afternoon before I casually surveyed  the deck, and to my surprise spotted a raptor huddled motionless against the railing. How long, we wondered, had he been there ? We quickly developed a working theory that he must have crashed headlong into the glass deck panel while in pursuit of one of the many song birds that flock to the bird feeder  dangling from the deck rail- but what to do about him?

Provincial and municipal animal control both had only answering machines, as did Wildlife Rescue (although with a helpful message that if we could capture the critter and nurture it overnight someone would get back to us in the morning) And then we thought to phone O.W.L. (the Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society ) We weren’t hopeful, since their facility is located in Delta and our injured bird had crashed in Port Moody .

Surprisingly, the call was answered, live, by a staffer who swung into action immediately; he coached us in how to approach the bird, and possible secure it,  identified it as a ‘sharp shinned hawk’ and assured us that help was on the way. Within minutes we had a call from a volunteer located in the Tri-cities, notifying us that she was inbound to our location.

By the time Carol, the O.W.L. volunteer, had pulled into the driveway I had managed to exacerbate the situation with a ham-handed attempt to secure the hawk by popping a cardboard box over its head, succeeding only in scaring it off the deck and into the shelter of the neighbours overgrown cedar hedge.

Carol was gracious enough to make no comment about my amateurish efforts to help, but instead, equipped with a cat cage, fishing net and flashlight, she plunged on hands and knees, in the rapidly failing light,  into the hedge, emerging triumphant minutes later with the injured hawk safely sequestered.

While relieved that we weren’t going to be spending our evening  trying to feed morsels of raw meat to a hawk in a cardboard box, we were, nonetheless invested in the hawk’s fate – what would become of him? To our delight we received several follow up phone calls to report on the progress of “our” hawk- he was concussed, but otherwise uninjured, and was a candidate for an early release back to the wild- from our backyard!

Finally came the report that our rescued raptor was ready to go, and a small rescue party convened on our deck including a neighbour, and a friend with grandson in tow, while Carol stationed herself on the back lawn, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA carrying a cat cage shrouded by a towel. it was over  in the blink of an eye- before waiting cameras could be aimed and focused. The hawk was hungry for freedom, and dashed to the safety of the tallest cedar in the yard.

It was a ‘feel good’ experience all round – a wild animal successfully rescued, treated, and released, and O.W.L. a small local charity focused on raptor rescue deserves high marks for their professionalism and effective rescue response. They certainly made our list of worthy causes to support, and we would commend them to yours as well.

Here’s how you can help  volunteer, buy a membership, sponsor a bird, or just make a donation.