On May 19, 2023, I photographed the release of a barred owl, who I nicknamed Bob (or, if you prefer to be more formal, Robert). The release for Centre Wildlife Care was carried out by Faith and her husband Tony. (Incidentally, Tony literally did the carrying that evening.)
Centre Wildlife Care is run by Robyn Graboski, its director, and rehabilitates numerous wildlife throughout the center of Pennsylvania, including owls, eagles, hawks, raccoons – well, you name it, and Robyn has probably released it into the wild. That evening was Bob’s turn for release.
Faith and Tony turned the crate on the side, so that Bob could walk, jump, or fly to wherever he wanted. However, the owl – perhaps distrustful of people (only natural) – hesitated. Faith checked to ensure that Bob’s talons were not caught in the towel.
Bob reacts to Faith’s proximity.
Faith, Tony, and I discussed why Bob remained standing in the crate and what should be done next. Consequently, we were all taken by surprise when Bob took off in rapid flight. (The best I could do was one blurry flight photo.)
Bob (the barred owl) found a good perch and, turning his head in every direction, visually checked the area. He might have stayed there longer except a few blue jays decided they didn’t want a owl in their territory and began heckling him.
Eventually, Bob found a good perch from where the jays left him alone, giving Bob time to contemplate his next move into freedom. In brief, a successful release!
On the Centre Wildlife Care Facebook page (which anyone can visit), I have additional photos of the release (12 photos).