A great horned owl returned to the wild Wednesday evening, two months after being found injured on the ground in Longview Lake Park.
Kimberly Hess, director of the Lakeside Nature Center in Kansas City, which took care of the female owl while she mended, said it’s wonderful to see the bird fly again. She praised her staff, which nursed the bird back to good health.
“It’s a pretty big win for them,” Hess said. “To be able to bring her back and to see her fly again is the biggest reward we can have.”
Nature lover and photographer Karen Davis of Lee’s Summit saw the owl on the ground in Longview Lake Park the morning of May 21. The bird couldn’t fly. Davis feared it had a broken wing.
She called the ranger’s office, and Tom Brown, a ranger with Jackson County Parks and Recreation, consulted with wildlife experts and brought a cage to the park.
Brown, Davis and a third person captured the bird and took her to the nature center.
“We didn’t see any physical injuries like a break or an open wound, but she did have soft tissue damage done to the wing,” Hess said. “Because of that, she was unable to fly or feed herself.”
The owl was emaciated and dehydrated. The staff at the nature center started her on fluids to raise her hydration level and then to restart her digestive system.
“Once that got going, little by little we introduced cold prey foods — meats and things like that — and we got her to the point to where she was able to fly and ready to go back,” Hess said.
The owl spent the last two months mending, resting her injured wing and regaining her strength. The bird is about 18 inches tall with a 5-foot wingspan.
She was released at the Longview Lake Marina.
“That is her territory,” Hess said. “She probably has a mate there still. She will go back to where her mate is. … She will go back to her home territory and her own nest.”