BUCKHANNNON – The West Virginia Raptor Rehabilitation Center visited Buckhannon last week to help a barred owl that had been injured when it was hit by a car.
And so far, the owl’s recovery has been progressing smoothly.
The story begins on Wednesday, June 24, when Sean Lyons, owner of Straight Up Used Auto, found the injured owl in the parking lot of Straight Up Used Auto on Brushy Fork Road.
“He was in the parking lot, and I had a customer looking at a car to purchase, and he’s like, ‘Do you realize there is an owl staring at us?’” Lyons said. “I looked, and there was a barred owl sitting in the parking lot with a bunch of feathers, a little bit of blood and he was kind of in shock.”
Lyons said he called the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, but they do not work with birds, so they directed him to contact the West Virginia Raptor Rehabilitation Center in Fairmont.
“They said, ‘Put thim in a box, keep him cool and get him out of the sun,’” Lyons said. “I told them he’s obviously in shock right now, and he has some wing damage, and I said he has some eye damage.”
Mike Book, the director of the West Virginia Raptor Rehabilitation Center, said when center officials arrived in Upshur County, it appeared as if the owl had been hit by a car, which is a pretty common occurrence.
“It suffered from a severe head concussion, and it was hit by a car,” Book said. “That’s a real common thing – especially in West Virginia where we have a lot of country roads, and trees and vegetation is up close to the road, and it’s just an ambush situation. People don’t mean to hit them, and the birds don’t mean to fly into the cars – it’s just wrong place, wrong time.”
Lyons said he put the owl in a large box, so he wasn’t cramped and put the box in an air-conditioned office for the evening, and volunteers from the rehab center arrived the next morning.
“They laid him out on the ground and told me it was a male because the females are bigger, and they checked the wing and said it’s going to be fixable,” Lyons said. “They said the damage was actually normal for hitting a vehicle. They said it would recover as well, and they told me it would probably be about three or four weeks, and they would end up bringing the bird back here and releasing it here at the lot, and I’d be here for the releasing.”
Book said the owl has been doing well since he arrived at their facility.
“This little guy is doing a lot better, and we just have to wait and see if all the neurologic conditions get back in order because sometimes it takes a little while,” Book said. “We’ve had birds for months before we could turn them loose, but his guy’s coming along pretty well.”
Book said one of the main missions of the center is to raise awareness and continue education about raptors and what to do in these situations.
“We want to educate ourselves out of a job – all we’re doing is educating more people to be on the lookout for these guys, so they bring us more injured birds where, maybe they wouldn’t have found anything before,” Book said.
He said the center goes across the state and even to other states to help raptors and other birds. The center may be reached at 304-366-2867 to report an injured bird. The center is also on Facebook, where they give updates on their raptors.
According to its website, the WVRRC’s mission is “to rehabilitate and release injured and orphaned birds of prey and to provide environmental education programs to the public for the benefit of all living things.” Read more by clicking here.