April showers bring May flowers.
But, April storms also bring potential catastrophe for young owls. Owlets can easily be blown from their nests and if the bird isn’t old enough to climb – something they do exceptionally – it could be stranded on the ground. Central Indiana had some high-wind storms come through near the end of the month and one young Great Horned Owl was found on the ground by a resident of a New Palestine, IN neighborhood. The Indiana Raptor Center was contacted and worked their magic.
The Indiana Raptor Center, located in Nashville, Indiana, is a non-profit organization. Their mission is comprised of a triad of objectives, none of which may be effectively achieved without the others: Rehabilitation, Education, and Conservation. Rehab and release is the goal for all birds that come through the center, whenever possible. It is staffed by wonderful, knowledgable and selfless rehabbers and volunteers.
It was a Sunday morning when my wife, Sara, and I joined our friend, Judy Custer, a volunteer at the Indiana Raptor Center, to try to locate a Great Horned Owl nest near the New Palestine neighborhood. The three of us entered the nearby woodland along where the owlet was found. We walked from one end of the woods to the other, carefully checking the larger trees, of which there were many. The first large bird to fly was a Barred Owl. Wrong species but we knew we were on the right track. As we neared a fence row, we saw an adult Great Horned Owl fly in the distance. Next, Sara spotted a fledgling owl in a large sycamore tree. Bingo! We found the family.
Judy went to find the owners of the property, made the needed arrangements, and reported back to the Raptor Center. After coordinating with the raptor center, nursing the owlet back to full strength, and contacting the center’s go-to climber, a date was set for an owl family reunion.
Early Tuesday afternoon, Sara and I arrived at the neighborhood to meet up again with Judy, as well as the land owners. Climber/falconer Adam Naugle, who assists with a great deal of re-nesting efforts for the Indiana Report Center, arrived shortly after with the owlet. Right away he noticed this was going to be an unusual climb. The nesting-tree was an old and unstable sycamore. Safety is paramount when trusting mother nature to hold you above the forest floor.
As we entered the woods we saw the two Great Horned adults fly away from the nesting tree. “Great! They are sill in the area,” I thought. Next, we spotted the sibling high up in the tree line, keeping a close eye on all of us. After careful planning and some adjustments, Adam had his path worked out for the climb. Lines were set and gear prepared for the ascent. The rehabbed owlet was placed in a secure bag and attached to his shoulder. Adam utilized an adjacent tree for the main portion of the climb. After reaching the necessary height, he made a connection with the nesting-tree and moved horizontally to it.
After safely reaching the nesting tree, Adam removed the owlet from its secure pouch. He had a brief moment with the fledgling, then placed it in the tree. A moment later, he exited to the adjacent tree and quickly repelled to the ground. We all watched as the owlet watched us. It seemed to be reconnecting with its surroundings. Of course it didn’t sit still for long. We observed as the owlet rustled it’s feathers, looked around and then made a short flight further down the large sycamore branch. Mission accomplished! Now, for a celebratory beer!
Velvet Night Moves. What a name for a beer, right?! This Imperial Stout, from Deviate Brewing, is officially my favorite stout. Rich coffee flavor is at the forefront, quickly followed by sweet spices. A hint of cinnamon smooths any bite that may have been anticipated from this 10-percenter. Have I mentioned that I like ‘em boozy? While enjoying this brew for the first time, savoring the flavors and gazing at the label, the name made me think: Is there a better beer to pair with an owl? Nope.
Beer Info –
Brewery – Deviate Brewing
Location – Indianapolis, IN
Beer – Velvet Night Moves
Style – Imperial Stout w/ Coffee, Cinnamon & Spices
ABV – 10%
Untappd Rating – 5/5
URL – www.DeviateBrewing.com
Bird Photo Info –
Species – Great Horned Owl
Nikon D850 / Nikon 200-500 lens
Photo Settings: 1/320s @ F5.6. ISO 400 – 500mm
Handheld – No Flash
Location – New Palestine, IN
Date – March 28th, 2020