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Birdies and eagles are standard fare at St. Andrew’s Valley Golf Club.
That’s a different story.
Especially when they have fallen from their nest, located on the golf course, and left to fend off near-freezing night temperatures and potential predators.
The strong winds late Monday afternoon and night toppled a spruce tree and spilled a nest containing two baby owls on to exposed ground at the 18-hole Aurora course.
When St. Andrew’s Valley gardener Cliff Nuttall noticed the distressed owlets Tuesday morning, staff flew into action to create a new home.
“One of our staff saw the two babies on the ground and the nest destroyed,” said director of golf Rob Pearce, who, along with general manager Dave Nisbet and Nuttall, placed the remains of the original nest into a modified milk crate stuffed with towels and tightly wedged it about 30 feet up another tree.
“The babies were cold and shaking. We picked them up in towels and placed them back in the nest.”
The rescue operation was supervised by an adult owl, believed to be the mother.
“I think she knew what we were doing,” Pearce said. “She was only 15 feet away. At one point, the mom dropped fish off. I think she knew we were trying to help. All is well in the owl condo today.”
Staff sought expert advice for handling the rescue.
“It’s actually quite common when you get winds that high,” Critter Control Wildlife Removal operator Terry Thorsell said. “And as soon as you get up over 10 feet, it’s a lot windier.”
It is common to see squirrels and other small animals blown from their trees, Thorsell said. Owls, not so much.
“That’s rare. There aren’t really that many owls out there,” he said.
Pearce is reluctant to identify the hole on which the nest is located, lest the owl family becomes a destination to which bird watchers flock.
“We see coyotes around once in a while, but it’s not every day you see big, beautiful owls around here, so it’s kind of neat to see them,” Pearce said. “It’s pretty rare around here, from what people are saying.”
Credits: By John Cudmore - YorkRegion.com