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Taking flight

Injured owl found in Westfield heals, is released

Photos by Mike Kindermann A barred owl rescued recently in Westfield was released Wednesday after recovering with the help of the Campbell Environmental Center. Pictured are Levi, Ian, and Eli as the owl is released.

WESTFIELD — An injured owl was rehabilitated and released thanks to a Westfield family and an environmental center.

Recently, Jen Morse’s son Eli and two of their neighbor’s kids, Ian and Levi, were out playing in the woods at their homes in Westfield. While making forts and playing in the creek, they found an injured and underweight barred owl.

The boys carried the owl to the neighbor’s house to put him in a box and bring him to Morse’s house. Jen Morse, seeing the owl was in rough shape, decided that it would be best to call Tim O’Day from the Campbell Environmental Center, her contact for all wildlife and bird of prey needs.

O’Day is a retired biology professor and director and founder of the environmental center in Erie County. “He’s our go-to guy when we find an injured bird,” she said. “This is the third time we’ve found one and we always call him.”

The Morses ended up surrendering the bird to the conservatory to allow him to heal up. According to the conservatory, the raptor was in bad shape. It had about half of the body weight it should have had at that point in his life, and was also carrying many parasites and had some infections.

“Had the owl stayed in that spot, he would not have survived the night,” Morse said. “The boys rescued him, but the conservatory saved him. He was so very sick. We’re thankful for a resource that can rehabilitate a beautiful creature like this wild barred owl.”

Despite the odds, O’Day and the conservatory were able to heal the bird and get it to where it could be independent, eating on its own, and hunting on its own. The owl was released Wednesday afternoon in the same location where he was found.

“The uniqueness of this was that the boys were out in the woods playing, a safe way to escape COVID-19,” O’Day said. “If this did not occur, the bird would have been dead that day. COVID-19 usually takes lives, but in this case it saved one.”

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