Sailors aid injured owl

Stock photo.

Stock photo.

Peter Mallett
Staff Writer

The discovery of an injured Barred Owl turned a relaxing hike into a rescue mission for Sailor First Class Madison Crawford and S1 Joseph Walker.

The two were trekking along the Nanoose Bay coastline when they spotted the bird on the ground.

“We had been hiking for about a half an hour when we came across an injured owl located well off the trail and under the tree,” said S1 Crawford. “I noticed the owl moving in a clearing at ground level and initially thought it was scavenging on the ground for some animal but that was not the case.”

He dropped a GPS (Global Positioning System) pin to mark their location on his cell phone and then called the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre in nearby Parksville, B.C.

The centre dispatched a volunteer but they couldn’t find the sailors.

After some back and forth with the Recovery Centre, the sailors decided to carry the bird to the nearest roadway. S1 Crawford had volunteered at the Rocky Point Bird Observatory’s Pedder Bay Banding Station and knew how to handle the owl. He picked the bird up by its legs, supported its chest, and tucked its wings in for the journey.

“It seemed like the right thing to do and we had the time to help. The bird was very docile and easy to handle once gripped, although it took a bit of care to pick it up off the ground.”

Upon reaching Powder Point Road 30 minutes later, the sailors met up with the volunteer and a commissionaire from Canadian Forces Experimental and Test Ranges. The injured owl was placed in a crate and taken to the Recovery Centre.

Sadly, the owl didn’t survive. Derek Downes, Animal Care Technician, said the owl had to be euthanized due to its injuries that included a compound fracture to its wing. The injury had partially healed but a portion of the humerus was still protruding.

“The owl was also emaciated, which tells me it had been on the ground for an extended period of time, slowly starving,” said Downes. “Sadly, in cases like this there is no reasonable prospect for flight or successful survival in the wild.”

S1 Crawford was saddened to hear the news about the owl’s fate, and noted the rapid decline of owl populations in many parts of Vancouver Island. He did not realize the extent of the owl’s injuries but it made sense since the bird didn’t put up much of a fight when he was picked up from the forest floor.

Despite the outcome, Downes was quick to congratulate the sailors for their efforts.

“Even though the outcome is obviously not what anyone wanted, it is still extremely commendable what Madison did for the owl,” said Downes. “If he had not rescued this owl it would have continued to starve and slowly, arduously perish and that is a terrible fate for any living creature.”

For more information about the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre and their work visit their website:


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