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2017 Kane County Chronicle Best of the Fox

A new home: Owl reunited with its family

Fox Valley Wildlife Center officials work to help owl at Settler’s Hill Golf Course

Published: Friday, April 4, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, April 4, 2014 8:02 a.m. CDT
(Photo provided by Bradley Kirk)
A baby owl sits in a basket placed in a tree at the Settler's Hill Golf Course in Batavia. The owl had fallen out of a tree, but Fox Valley Wildlife Center officials said after it was placed in the basket, an adult owl soon returned to care for the baby.

A young great horned owl has been reunited with its family this week at Settler’s Hill Golf Course, thanks to efforts from volunteers and officials with the Fox Valley Wildlife Center, as well as the golf course.

A golfer on Sunday was searching for a ball when he discovered the owl, which had fallen out of a tree. That set in motion an effort to find a way to get the owl back into the tree. That ultimately brought in Ryan DePauw, a St. Charles native and a naturalist experienced in such efforts.

On Monday morning, Fox Valley Wildlife Center Director Ashley Kendall had been contacted, and she came out to examine the bird. By Monday afternoon, DePauw was scaling the tree.

The original nest couldn’t be located.

DePauw, who volunteers with the wildlife center, brought up a basket to attach to the tree. As volunteers and staff members watched from below, the owl was put into a bag and brought up to DePauw, who put it into the basket.

Then, he said, it was time to “climb down and let mom do the rest.”

Arden Zick, one of the volunteers and a board member at the wildlife center, said the spectacle was “so rewarding.”

“We’ve got the feeling of hope, and yet we’re nervous because there is no guarantee that it’s going to work,” Zick said.

But good news followed quickly. DePauw said he received a call Tuesday morning that golf course workers reported that a parent owl had joined the young owl. Zick said Kendall returned to the site Wednesday and reported that Kendall, too, saw a parent owl in the vicinity.

DePauw said he is trained specifically for such work. He said he underwent training and took courses in arboriculture and learned “to help put baby birds back in trees.” He said it’s something that comes up maybe one to four times every year. In this case, he said, it was determined that the young owl might be in danger and “that’s when we intervene.”

He said there is urgency for a couple of reasons. If there are no siblings, parents might not continue to wait if they cannot locate their young. And also, he said, it could have been in danger from a coyote.

Zick said the effort was impressive and said the staff from the golf course had been “as excited and hopeful as we were.”

“It really was a team effort of people who wanted to see this little bird reunited with its parents,” she said.

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