When Laura Burban got a call about an owl refusing to budge from the middle of a busy road, she could tell the situation was serious. Owl sightings are not uncommon in her coastal town of Branford, Connecticut, but the beloved birds of prey are usually observed from a distance — not being narrowly avoided on a high-traffic street.
“As people were approaching either with vehicles or on foot, the owl would spread its wings out,” Burban, director of Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter told The Dodo. “But he would not take off.”
At first, Burban considered the possibility that he might’ve just caught something and stopped to eat it in the middle of the road. But as soon as she saw the barred owl in person, she knew he was in need of help.
“Once we got there, we could tell that the owl had a hurt wing,” Burban said. “He would flip over and put his talons up in the air as if to say, ‘Don’t touch me.’”
Although he was skeptical, capturing the owl wouldn’t be physically difficult since the bird was unable to fly. But Burban faced a different obstacle in the rescue: trying to drape a towel over a bird whose head was on an almost 360-degree swivel without stressing him out.
“I tried to have him look at the other animal control officer who was with me,” Burban said. “She was trying to do everything in her power to get her attention, but he just didn’t want to let go of locking eyes with me. He knew I was coming in for him.”
Eventually, Burban was able to cover the owl with the towel, which instantly helped the bird’s stress levels.
“Once the towel was on, he completely relaxed,” Burban said.
Burban and her team carefully lifted the owl off the ground and loaded him into their van. They brought him to a wildlife rehabilitation center called A Place Called Hope, where they ran some tests on his wings to figure out what was wrong with his wing.
“He has a pretty bad fracture close to his wrist,” Burban said. “The vet said that it’s not something that can be surgically repaired, so they’re going to wrap it, then wait and see.”
You can read more about the rescue here:
It’s been a few weeks since the owl’s rescue, but so far he’s recovering well. His fracture is almost healed, and after some physical therapy, his caregivers are confident that he’ll be ready to be re-released into his natural habitat.
Local residents are excited to welcome the sweet owl back into their neighborhood, too. A few days after the rescue, Burban got a call from James Cosgrove — the town’s first selectman and grandson to the shelter’s namesake.
“He said, ‘I’m calling about my owl! Everybody in the neighborhood has been asking about the owl, wondering if he’s gonna be okay.’”
Cosgrove proceeded to tell Burban that the owl had been around the neighborhood for years and that neighbors have watched him grow.
“Everybody knows him,” Burban said. He’s sort of like a famous owl over there, like the mayor of the neighborhood.”
Cosgrove was relieved to hear that the owl was doing just fine and would be making his way back home shortly — a sentiment that he surely shares with his neighbors who can’t wait to watch their beloved avian “mayor” fly around their neighborhood again.
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