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The original item was published from 2/5/2015 10:06:20 AM to 2/20/2015 12:05:00 AM.

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Butte-Silver Bow

Posted on: February 5, 2015

[ARCHIVED] Free to fly: Rehabbed great gray owl back in the wild

Andrew and Cherin McFarland had the pleasure of setting a great gray owl free Wednesday afternoon southwest of Georgetown Lake at a private residence.

The McFarlands rescued the male owl – the tallest owl species in North America – after he apparently was hit by a car in late November. When they found him, he was limping along the road that runs alongside their home at Jericho Bay.

The owl’s shoulder was broken, and he could not fly. Not sure what to do, but wanting to help the bird, the McFarlands called the Philipsburg police. Police told the McFarlands to contact Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Officials there told them to get a blanket.

“They said get a blanket on him, and he’ll quit struggling,” Andrew recalled while he, his wife, and Montana Raptor Conservation Center staff and volunteers gathered on Wednesday to release the bird.

“We tracked him down and found him in a tree well,” Andrew said. “It was almost dark.”

Cherin added that fresh snow had fallen, and they could follow the bird’s tracks through the powder.

“We saw just the wisp of a wing,” she added.

Once Andrew got the blanket on the bird, the owl became still and quiet, allowing Andrew to pick him up.

“He was so light I thought he’d found a way to sneak away from me,” Andrew said.

Read the full story in The Montana Standard.
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