Saturday, October 16, 2010

Update On Rescued Snowy Owl

Sorry to leave you guys up in the air about the fate of the snowy owl introduced below, but I have been very busy as of late.

So let me pick up where I left off.

I drove to St-Hyacinthe and finally located the veterinarian centre of the Université de Montréal after a 90 minute search for its sanctuary, which was closed for the season. Upon finally arriving they took the owl and I over to a clinic and did a preliminary inspection on it while awaiting the head of the centre, Dr. Guy Fitzgérald. I learned many things about owls during the intervening minutes: did you know, for example, that snowy owls are virtually blind in the dark? All my life I had laboured under the misapprehension that they had super infrared vision or something which would allow them to spot a lemming two miles off under a starless sky.

Instead, it is their hearing which is incredible, and able to vector in on the scratching of vermin on the snow or grass.

In time, the head doctor arrived with a group of interns. Donning elbow-length rawhide gloves, they covered the bird with a towel and began their inspection. The owl, they confirmed, would need an amputation to remove the damaged wing, and they also determined that it would need to have a broken mandible repaired if it was going to eat.

They also discovered that the owl was a male. This was not a shock to me but would have some bearing on the centre's willingness to rehabilitate the bird. You see, males need two wings if they are going to inseminate a female. Here is a link to a YouTube if you need a picture to grasp the concept.

The veterinarian gravely pronounced we should consider euthenasia: not only was the male owl of little use for display, adoption or reproduction, but it's quality of life might be too compromised - it appears that birds can suffer from phantom limb syndrome and continually flop around on the floor trying to get airborne.

This was not what I wanted to hear, and since this rescue was very much of a team effort I had to speak with Steven Walker first before coming to a conclusion.

It was a very pensive drive back to Montréal, my mind trying to balance the rescue of a bird which so miraculously survived a propellor strike with the possibility of condemning it to a cruel existence.

I will continue the story shortly.


Blogger WrathofDawn said...

Aw... poor little guy. At least you did everything you could.

3:16 PM  
Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

Sad story. Snowys are pretty majestic and great fliers. We had them as far South as Platteville, WI in the winter. You did what you could, it would be a shame if they couldn't do something for the great bird.

11:33 PM  
Anonymous custom paper said...

oooh, poor one (( it's so sad. but you really did all you can do at that moment. hang on (

12:30 AM  

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