A Western screech owl was brought into MARS with an apparent head injury. Photo by Gyl Anderson/MARS

Hockey-puck-size injured Vancouver Island owl begins recovery

Rare western screech owl being treated at MARS near Courtenay after showing signs of a head trauma

An injured bird that was brought into Vancouver Island’s MARS Wildlife Rescue Centre has started its recovery.

The Western screech owl was turned into the centre, located between Campbell River and Courtenay, on Aug. 16 and was exhibiting signs of a head injury.

Wildlife rehabilitator Brenna Lerch said it’s likely the owl hit its head on something. Its pupils were two different sizes. She said that head trauma in birds is relatively common; however, it’s not often they will see a screech owl.

The bird is a blue-listed species in B.C., meaning that it’s of special concern.

RELATED: MARS seeing influx of sick, injured eagles from north part of Vancouver Island

The species is found in just a few locations in B.C.: the Okanagan and the West Coast. They’re small, weighing about 160 grams – about as heavy as a hockey puck.

Screech owls like to live in old growth forests; they make their homes in holes in trees that have been excavated by woodpeckers. But as their habitat disappears and predators move in, the owls are becoming less and less common.

“We don’t see many screech owls at all,” said Lerch. “Their population has declined drastically.”

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The owl that came into the centre is an adult. He’s on cage rest and is being given an anti-inflammatory and painkiller. Lerch is hopeful that’ll bring down any swelling in its head.

With some time, the owl should be able to be released back into the wild.

“We try our best to release them back to where they came from,” said Lerch.

If you come across an injured bird and are unsure of how to proceed, you can call MARS Wildlife Rescue Centre at 250-337-2021.

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