On his way home from work, on December 4, Melvin Hodge of Orkney found himself saving an injured snowy owl. His wife, Tara, described the incident as something out of the ordinary.
“This guy was coming towards him and he dimmed his lights, he turned his brights on again and saw this white thing like barrelling across the road,” said Tara Hodge.
Thankfully, Tara had taken care of an injured owl a month earlier so she guided her husband on how to approach the female bird.
“We kind of knew to cover it with a coat or a blanket or something and then just make sure that it’s not flapping its wings around or whatever,” continued Tara.
Melvin took the bird into the house where Tara had prepared a box full of essentials like towels and a warm water bottle.
“She had her claws like full-on to the coat so we had to kind of get her claws off of the coat and put her in the box,” said Tara. “And the whole time this is happening, it was like making this clicking sound and hissing at us, it wasn’t very happy.”
Tara made sure to call the wildlife centre again. She was told to have the bird in a box with a hot water bottle, blankets, and be kept in a quiet, dark environment to minimize stress.
Social media was a key part to getting the animal to the safe space of the wildlife centre. Candice Sperlie offered to help with transportation.
“I went to Facebook to look for somebody that would be able to take her to Red Deer the next day which was awesome, you normally don’t find anyone on Facebook usually,” said Tara.
The centre determined the injuries were caused by barbwire as the side of its wing was caught. This tore into the muscle, causing the wound.
“She said this is usually from probably being caught on a barb wire fence and then flapping and being able to rip itself away. She said the big thing is that, but it’s also the stress that usually gets to them,” said Tara.
The centre told Tara that if they keep the stress of the bird under control within two weeks by making sure it was eating and drinking properly, the chances of the owl’s survival will increase.
After this trivial two week period, they will release the owl into an outdoor enclosure with another snowy owl.
“That’s where they’ll spend the winter and then they will most likely release them when it’s warmer,” said Tara.