TYPE OF BIRD: Northern Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium californicum).
WHEN RESCUED: Oct. 6.
WHAT HAPPENED: In early October, the Juneau Raptor Center received a call about a small owl found on Meadow Lane, in Juneau. The caller said the bird would not fly. A volunteer from the JRC was sent to the scene and found the bird perched about two inches off the ground in an alder bush. She approached the bird slowly and was able to reach out and pick it up; not normal behavior.
INJURIES: The bird was examined and it was determined the bird had no broken bones. According volunteers, the keel (chest bone) was not sharp, indicating the owl was not starving. Although the pupils reacted normally, the JRC believes this bird may have struck a window and suffered some kind of head trauma. Meadow, as he was dubbed, was not acting very “owl-like” and care-givers attributed this to the injury.
CARE: The owl was made comfortable in an enclosure and offered food. After the first night, the bird started eating and soon after began to fly again.
RELEASE: According to JRC volunteers, the owl improved significantly over the course of the first 24 hours. Meadow continued to fly strongly and was eating on his own. A release was planned on Oct. 9.
The release, which happened close to where he was found, went well and as planned, according to the JRC. The bird was banded with a U.S. Fish and Wildlife leg band for future identification purposes.
Upon release, he immediately flew into a tree, preened and then flew away.
MORE ABOUT THE NORTHERN PYGMY OWL: According to the book “Guide to the Birds of Alaska,” by local author Bob Armstrong, this very small owl is about the size of a sparrow. Its call is a single, short whistle repeated at intervals of about two seconds. The bird prefers open coniferous forests and forest edges. This owl can usually be seen hunting during the day.
• Message phone for the Juneau Raptor Center, 586-8393; emergency pager, 790-5424; or for more information about the JRC, go online to juneauraptorcenter.org.