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Barney The Barred Owl

Our Holidays Are Never Dull.

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    Dr. Pat Redig With Barney

 

2004 at Christmas time, about two days before Christmas, Pat was driving home very late one night and she spotted a lump on the side of the road that drew her attention.  She turned around and discovered it was an owl lying injured by the roadside.  It still had a mouse in its talons.

Just then a State Patrol car came up and turned on its lights.  This scared the owl and he tried to hop into the woods.  After questioning Pat about what she was doing the officer drove off.  Pat called for help on her cellular phone and George and Ralph came with boxes. 

They searched until nearly 1 am with three cars headlights pointing into the woods, but they could not find the owl.  As Ralph began leaving, George stayed deep in the woods and caught sight of a little motion.  Sure enough it was the hurt owl.  With leather gloves on to protect his hands he and Pat approached the owl. Pat distracted it and George caught it and carried it to the waiting box in the car.

The poor little owl had hurt his wing, could not see well and was bleeding a bit.  George nested the owl in a blanket and took it back to the ranch to get it help.

Well, we nicknamed the owl Hesus.  We stored the owl in the dark in a very cool place so he wouldn’t stress out any more than he had already.

The next morning, George Drove Hesus the 227 miles to the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center where Dr Redig’s staff was waiting to help.  Then, leaving Hesus in the care of Dr. Redig, George drove back home.

Dr. Redig called to say the owl was a Barred Owl and that it was very well fed.  It had a head trauma, it had damaged vision in one eye, its wing was hurt and he had some internal injuries as well.  It seemed obvious that Hesus had a confrontation with a motor vehicle.  But despite the injuries Dr. Redig was optimistic about a full recovery.

The Raptor Center Named the owl Barney.  Barney spent over 3 months recuperating, after surgeries and lots of TLC from the volunteer staff at the Raptor Center.  

image003 

Pat went to see how Barney was doing.

Dr. Redig took good care of Barney and and when Barney was ready for release he agreed with our request to return Barney to his home territory where he had done so well until playing in the street.

 

After Barney’s eyes recovered fully and Barney’s wing and legs had been exercised by the volunteers at the Raptor Center so he could again fly. Dr Redig let Pat bring Barney back to the ranch for release.

Unfortunately Barney’s home woods were clear cut, so the decision was to release him right here at the ranch where we have lots of mice, good water, lots of vacant woods and peaceful areas for Barney to live.

We invited the Nevis School to witness the release and about 70 kids from all grades came.  TV reporters and cameras came from St Paul, Bemidji and Fargo, and the radio station [the River 95.1] in Fargo broadcast a live interview and 5 newspaper reporters came from as far away as Fargo for interviews and pictures of this little witnessed event, but not the local newspaper from Nevis.

At 2:30 pm George carried the case with Barney in it up the driveway to the edge of the woods.  He reached inside to bring Barney out for the cameras, but Barney bit him.  So without further ado, the top of the cage was removed and Barney was free again.  But Barney sat in the box and posed for the cameras for several minutes. 

Finally Barney jumped in the air and zoomed past the kids lined up in front of him and he flew into a nearby tree.  Then he flew to another, then another until he disappeared into the woods.

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Barney’s Release

Picture Courtesy of Park Rapids Enterprise

Another wild animal was saved by our Ranch and returned back into the wild.  IT WAS SO COOL!

Not surprising to us, we have seen Barney a few times around the ranch late in the day near night fall.

 

 


 

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