Owlets Doogie and Howser following their arrival at SORCO Raptor Rehabilitation Centre last April. The pair have since been released back into the wild. (Contributed)

Great horned owls returned to the wild in the South Okanagan

Great horned owls plucked by crows from their nest last April have been released back into the wild

A pair of young great horned owls were recently returned to the wild in Okanagan Falls.

Doogie and Howser, named after the main character of the Doogie Howser, M.D. television series, were set free by manager Dale Belvedere of the SORCO Raptor Rehab Centre at Stag’s Hollow Winery.

The pair had spent the last three months with SORCO after crows plucked the owlets from their nest and dropped them the ground on nearby Island Road.

“One was just seven days old and the other one was 10 days, one had just opened its eyes and the other hadn’t yet,” said Belvedere, who added this species of owl often takes over other birds’ nests in the spring.

“This is very common. Great horned owls can’t build their own nests because of the shape of their beaks. It could be anybody’s nest, crows, red-tails (hawks). So when these birds come back, they want their nests back and they fight for it. That’s what happened in this situation,” she said. “We could clearly see the crows swarming the nest when we went to pick up the first baby and the parents were a couple of branches up just going crazy.”

READ MORE: Birds of a feather flock together at Okanagan raptor recovery centre open house

About 75 people attended the release at Stag’s Hollow and the winery is donating this season’s tasting fees to SORCO.

According to Belvedere, the site was an ideal spot to set the birds of prey free.

READ MORE: Taste of freedom for B.C. owls who recovered from poisoning

“We know the vineyards are full of rodents so there’s no question about food for them. It doesn’t mean they’ll stay there but at least they have a food source while they’re there,” she said. “Chances are there may not be many owls in the area so that’s great if we can get the population up in certain areas.”


 

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A young great horned owl flies the coup after being released back into the wild. (Contributed)

One of two great horned owls released at Stag’s Hollow Winery collects its bearings in the vineyard. (Contributed)

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