"What the frig?"
Those were the first words Mike Duffney uttered when he saw what had landed in the back of his truck on his Tuesday morning drive to Bridgewater.
“I was driving, just drinking my coffee, and I kind of seen it like a plane coming down and crashing, but I never thought no more of it and just all of a sudden, bang,” said Duffney.
The Lunenburg man pulled over to the side of the road in Whynotts Settlement and rounded to the back of his truck to find a barred owl.
“I put on a pair of gloves and I went and touched him to see if he was still alive and he perked up a little, but he wasn’t (OK), you know,” said Duffney.
Not knowing what to do with the owl, Duffney continued on to Bridgewater with the bird.
There, he met up with his friend Carol Cunningham, who he was going to help chop wood.
"You’re never going to believe what just flew in the back of my truck." - MIke Duffney
“I said, 'Now look, you’re never going to believe what just flew in the back of my truck,' ” Duffney said. “When I told her she said, ‘We got to save that animal.’”
Since Cunningham moved to Nova Scotia in 2017, she’s been following the work of Hope Swinimer, founder and director of Hope for Wildlife.
About the barred owl
The most common owl in Nova Scotia
Unlike other owls, barred owls have dark eyes.
Call sounds like: "who-cooks-for-you, who-cooks-for-you-all."
Active year-round, mostly at night. May be spotted resting or hunting in daylight.
Young are born in April.
While owls eat mostly small rodents, they may also eat amphibians, reptiles, insects and earthworms.
“I knew about her and I knew that a South Shore veterinarian in Wileville was a drop-off point, so Mike and I very gently picked the owl up, put him in a Tuff tote and took him up to the vet,” said Cunningham, noting the owl appeared to have no outward injuries.
Swinimer said the rescued barred owl arrived at the wildlife rehab centre on Tuesday.
“He has head trauma and is very, very thin, so he was certainly struggling,” Swinimer said, noting the wind and lack of nutrition probably caused the owl’s fall.
Hope for Wildlife has seen a record high of more than 30 barred owls since December, said Swinimer.
“It could be the weather, there’s been talk about a drop in the rodent population, so perhaps the food supply has been affected for these animals,” she said. “We don’t know for sure, but we’re getting a lot more hit by cars.”
The barred owl from the back of Duffney’s truck will stay at the rehab centre for roughly six weeks to recover, Swinimer expects, before they return him to the wild.
“With our barred owls, they’re very much a social structured bird, so we’ll try to get him back to where he came from for sure,” said the rehab centre director.
Duffney said he’ll keep his eye out for the barred owl in the next couple of months, as he travels that road often.
“I’ll be looking for Bernard,” laughed Duffney.
“We were going to call it Betty, but where it’s a boy, Carol said Bernard would be a good name and I said, 'Yeah, why not?' ”
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