An endangered short-eared owl is about to make an unexpected flight back into the wild after being found wounded at Detroit Metro Airport in 2011. After being found injured, the rare owl was cared for by the staff and volunteers at the Howell Conference and Nature Center in Michigan. The center is a jewel to Livingston County, and homes raptors and other rare, wild animals as well as everyday injured animals like orphaned and injured birds and deer. The short-eared owl has been named Shorty and was never expected to recover.
“This is a rare bird everyone thought might never recover enough to be released,” center Director Dana DeBenham told Livingston Daily of the owl that belongs to an endangered species, according to the State of Michigan.
Thursday, the center will be participating in a fund raising event coined, “A Wild Wonderful Night.” The event will be held on the grounds of Cleary University. The annual fundraiser will be offering community members the opportunity to bid for the chance to bear witness to the beautiful owl’s first flight back into the wild. The Howell Nature Center relies heavily on donor contributions.
Shorty was a part of an exhibit at the center’s Wild Wonders Wildlife Park, which the Howell Nature Center describes on its website.
“The Wild Wonders Wildlife Park was born from our mission to help injured and orphaned wildlife and to educate the public to become better stewards of our natural world. The Park provides a permanent home for birds and mammals that cannot be returned to the wild due to an injury or being too tame. All of the birds and mammals who call the Wild Wonders Wildlife Park home serve as educational ambassadors to the Park’s 20,000 visitors each year. In addition, many of the Park’s wildlife residents go on more than 200 off-site, live birds of prey and mammal programs presented by the Howell Conference & Nature Center each year throughout Michigan.”
Despite being considered a permanent resident, the rare owl recently has been showing tremendous flight capability. The ultimate goal of the center is rehabilitation and return to the wild, so the staff tested the once wounded, endangered owl’s flight capabilities in a pre-release flight pen. To the center’s staff’s excitement, her readiness to return to the wild was confirmed. Endangered in Michigan, this owl’s return to the wild, which is scheduled for December, is being called a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to witness. Event coordinator April Gasbarre spoke of the opportunity to bid to watch the rare, endangered owl’s first return flight after being injured and said, “I suspect it will be the highlight of the evening.”
[Images via Howell Nature Center]