These days, it seems as though our incoming patients are all barred owls, all the time. In the past month, the VINS Wildlife Services department has received 15 injured barred owls, making us wonder if we'll have a repeat of the winter of 2007-08.
During that winter, VINS received more than 40 (yes, forty! That's four-zero!) barred owl patients. The owls were coming in emaciated, hypothermic and sometimes with head trauma or other injuries. A low vole population further north brought many Canadian barreds down to Vermont to scrounge for food, making it a competitive hunting season for local owls. Add that scenario to our super-deep snowfall (we got more than 100 inches that winter), and all owls were having a tough time punching through the snow to grab the critters moving below.
Well, there's no serious snow accumulation as of yet in Vermont's Upper Valley, so we're a bit curious as to why we're seeing so many barred owls. These birds are all coming to us for the same reason: hit by a car. We're splinting legs, wrapping broken wings, bandaging wounds and treating head trauma galore. No matter the reason, we're happy to give these downtrodden birds a hand to get them back on the wing.
So far this year, VINS has admitted 476 injured, ill and orphaned birds into our rehabilitation department! That's nearly a record for us, and the year's not over yet. Please consider making a donation to support our work to help injured birds return to the wild. And thank you!