On a stormy day on May 4 a large old Hemlock in the woods near Bainbridge Island’s Ellingsen Road snapped a branch that happened to hold a Barred Owl nest.
Nearby residents on a walk that afternoon were startled to discover a wee owlet sitting in the dirt next to its toppled nest. Two eggs were lying broken next to the baby bird, and its desperately worried mother was flying around calling for her single surviving offspring.
The couple picked up the tiny fuzzy owl and took it to West Sound Wildlife Shelter.
According to Hospital Manager Lynne Weber the young owl was wet and dirty but otherwise in fine condition. It had apparently been in the nest when it landed on the ground, likely saving its life. Weber explained that Barred Owls typically lay eggs that hatch at one-to-two-week intervals, and this first born, it turns out, was darn lucky. She guessed it was about a week old, with fluffy downy feathers.
Looking for a way to reunite mother and baby, Weber called her tree-climbing expert buddy Ryan Walsh to assist. She told me that Walsh has assisted in the past with replacing eaglets to their nests.
The next day, wearing a hardhat and goggles to protect him from airborne attacks from Mom, Walsh scaled the tree and strapped an owl nesting box to the remaining strong trunk, about 20 feet up. He then carried up the owlet in a pet carrier and tucked it safely into its new home, which Mom quickly accepted as her new nest.
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Photos courtesy of Brandy Stier.