A couple of weeks ago, a Sault Tribe police officer saw an injured barred owl on the road near the I-75 Kinross exit just south of Sault Ste Marie.
He picked it up and took it to Sault Animal Hospital, where Dr. Jeff LaHuis and his staff took it in for observation.
An examination was done, which included an x-ray. It was determined that the owl had a broken right wing. A fractured radius and ulna, to be exact.
LaHuis believes the owl either struck a tree, power line or pole, while focusing on prey below.
“For obvious reasons, you cannot put a cast on a wing, so we put a figure eight bandage on it. We left it on for a week and a half to get the bone set up,” LaHuis said.
After that, the owl was allowed to stretch its wings. LaHuis will let it heal for another week or so then they will do some light training for rehab.
And if all goes well, the owl will be released back into the wild in a few weeks.
LaHuis said the owl is very aware of its surroundings in the hospital. Sometimes it even communicates with the crew.
When I was there, the owl was “chirping” at LaHuis as it sat on his right arm. I asked him what he thought the owl was saying; he said with a smile, "Probably telling me to ‘eff’ off.”
But overall, the owl is cooperating with the treatment and the temporary new home. LaHuis feeds it small mice purchased (frozen, nonetheless) from the Pets Supplies Plus store in the Soo.
If by chance, the owl is unable to return to the wild, LaHuis said that it would remain at the hospital and be used for educational purposes, such as bringing it to schools to show students the beauty and character of the owl.
There is one last bit of unfinished business; however, LaHuis would love to name the owl. And that is where he would like your help.
He would like you to head to Sault Animal Hospital’s Facebook page and make a suggestion.
In case you are wondering, Dr. LaHuis is rehabilitating the owl on his own dime as he does with many wild animals that are brought into him.