Rescued owl released in Granby

A great horned owl rescued at the Granby Bark Park on Sept. 26 was released into a nearby area after recuperating at an animal rehab in Walden.
Stephen Lee / Courtesy photo

After recuperating at a Walden animal rehab center for a week, the great horned owl rescued from Granby’s Bark Park on Sept. 26 has returned to the wild.

Volunteers Stephen and Christine Lee of Hot Sulphur Springs picked up the owl from North Park Wildlife Rehabilitation on Sunday to bring the bird back to Grand County for its release.

With the help of Granby Police Officer Jake Fisher, who rescued the bird on Sept. 26, the Lees took the owl to a safe environment along the Colorado River with lots of cottonwood trees.

“We think this was a young bird so we’re not sure if the parents might be around somewhere,” Stephen Lee said.

Granby Police Officer Jake Fisher encourages the great horned owl he rescued on Sept. 26 to fly back home on Sunday along the Colorado River.
Stephen Lee / Courtesy photo

Lee explained that great horned owls tend to gather in family groups and are territorial, so the goal was to release the bird close to where it was found. Luckily, the owl did not sustained any serious injuries when it likely flew into a fence at the dog park and stunned itself.

After a brief stay at the nonprofit that rescues, rehabs and releases injured and orphaned birds, raptors and mammals, the owl was released healthy and full.

“The bird seemed to be flying and moving OK, it was just sort of reluctant to get out (of the crate),” Lee said.

Hot Sulphur Springs volunteer Christine Lee, right, and North Park Wildlife Rehabilitation owner Deb McLachlan with the rescued great horned owl before it was released in Granby.
Stephen Lee / Courtesy photo

The release marked a special moment for the volunteers too. Though the Lees have previously volunteered with Colorado Parks and Wildlife to conduct nest surveys on birds of prey in Grand County, this was their first time getting to return an animal into the wild.

“It was very cool,” Lee said. “The bird flew once we got her out of the cage. She kind of flew at me, and then into the willows, and disappeared basically.”

The Lees plan to go back to the release site in a few weeks to check in on the bird and try to ensure the owl is still healthy.

Great horned owls are the mostly widely distributed species of owl in the Americas, and mishaps involving the birds are apparently not terribly uncommon either.

In June, Colorado Parks and Wildlife reported separate incidents involving two great horned owls in the state on the same day.

In one of the incidents, an owl had flown into a soccer net that was left hanging. That left the bird traumatized, dehydrated and exhausted, and CPW officials urging people to take down sports nets after games and practices.

In another incident on June 29, a young great horned owl had gotten one of its wings tangled in a barbed-wire fence, and a CPW officer had to cut the fence before removing the barb from the owl’s wing.


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