Owls left homeless after tree hits aviary in windstorm

Whooo needs a new home?

Three barn owls and a great grey owl, that’s who.

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The owls, which can’t be released into the wild, live at The Raptors on Herd Road near Duncan, but their aviary was destroyed during the Dec. 20 windstorm.

The bird sanctuary is turning to the public for help to rebuild, said manager Robyn Radcliffe.

“The windstorm hit us pretty hard. We had a number of trees down and one of the trees fell on our owl block and damaged one of our aviaries.

“Most of our birds are healthy and fit and they fly free every day. They come home because life is easy for them. But we also have a few birds who can’t be released. They stay in owl block and the tree fell on top of it.”

The three barn owls and the great grey owl were rescued by staff who stayed during the windstorm to check on the birds because they were worried about them.

“We heard the tree go down and within five minutes, we were able to get all the birds out,” said Radcliffe.

“Everybody’s safe. No injuries. But they’ve lost their home right now and are in temporary housing.”

The birds were scared by the storm, flying around instead of sitting calmly in the aviary, as they usually do.

“There was a hole in most of the roof of most of their aviary, so we’re lucky they didn’t fly out, because at that point it was still so windy, it wasn’t safe,” said Radcliffe.

“They were so scared. ... They were trying to get away from the tree.”

The staff were also scared, climbing up the tree that was on top of the aviary to try to get the owls out, she said.

The centre already had rebuilding plans for January and February. So trying to quickly rebuild the aviaries will be a bit of a challenge, said Radcliffe.

Some staff members started a GoFundMe page that raised almost $6,000 in the last few days. “It’s our preference to rebuild as quickly as we can,” said Radcliffe, who estimates it will cost $5,000 to $10,000 to rebuild the owl block.

“But it depends on the lengths we go to. We also have to repair several fences. I haven’t been able to put a price tag on everything.”

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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