Last Tuesday a Dash 8 aircraft
was on its final approach to Salluit airport. There was a flock of snowy owls
just off the end of the runway, and the noise of the engines' roar caused them to fly off in different directions. Unfortunately for this young owl, it flew up directly into a prop, did two full rotations and was spit out.Air Inuit
employee Steven Walker went out to clean up the mess, and to his (and everyone else's) amazement, the bird was still alive, although its left wing was severed at the elbow. Being a kindly soul, he took the owlet down to his house and placed it in a shack to see if it would survive the night.
The following day while in Montreal I learned of the incident, and phoned Steve to see if I could be of any help. The bird was still very much alive, but it was obvious that it would need some veterinarian treatment if it was to live much longer.
After some research I was able to find a veterinarian centre
in St-Hyacinthe operated by the Université de Montréal that had a specialization with birds of prey. As well, they have a sanctuary for hawks, vultures, falcons and owls which could not be returned to nature due to injury. The management of Air Inuit became involved and arranged for the shipment of the bird down to Montreal.
So on Thursday night, after postponing my return back north, I picked up a cardboard box at the Air Inuit cargo depot. Peering in through the holes carved through the sides, I saw the most beautiful golden eyes imaginable. They were alert and seemingly locked onto my face in a silent assessment of my intentions. I drove it to my hotel room to rest overnight before the trip to the veterinarian centre.
I lifted the lid of the box which I had placed on the night table beside my bed, and the owl continued its gaze at me, with its beak open in a defensive posture. Deciding that the bird had had enough, I cued up some looped snow owl calls
on my computer, and went out for an hour or two.
When I returned to the room, it was no longer in the box; rather, it had hopped its way over to the computer and seemed to be comforted by the soft hooting of its brethren. I force fed the bird some water, and left it to settle in wherever it wanted to for the night. I would wake up many times that night, and found the owlet's golden eyes fixed on me each time.
This is going to be a long story, so I'll break off the post here and relate the ups and downs of the trip to the vet later.