Temperatures fit for snowy owl

This weather is more suited for — a snowy owl!

And the snowy owl that called Wood County home for several days is recovering from a wing injury at the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia in Morgantown.

“He is doing well, eating and is close to normal body weight,” Dr. Jesse Fallon, director of veterinary medicine at the avian center, told me Thursday about “our” owl.

Fallon said he expects the owl to be moved to a larger enclosure next week so the bird has more room to exercise.

With its injuries, the snowy owl could not progress with its rehabilitation until now and has been kept in a smaller enclosure, Fallon said.

The optimal weight for this type of owl is 1,600 grams, Fallon said. Wood County’s snowy owl now weighs just over 1,500 grams.

The owl from the Arctic region is being nurtured back to health in outside enclosures in Morgantown. The species does not like warm places or to get overheated, Fallon said.

The young male owl, believed to be 7 to 8 months old, was coaxed by avian specialists to leave its perch on a pole in Vienna on Dec. 21 and was brought to the Morgantown center.

Officials determined the owl had been hit by a car, suffering a right wing injury, in early December, Fallon said.

The bird was first spotted in Wood County in late November or early December, Fallon said, and spent time along Grand Central Avenue in Vienna.

The hope is the owl can be released “at some point.”

While on the subject of birds, the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge at Williamstown counted four bald eagles during its survey on land from Willow Island Locks and Dam in Pleasants County to Hannibal Locks and Dam at New Martinsville on Thursday. The survey group traveled along Routes 2 and 7 looking for bald eagles.

Ice on the Ohio River prohibited a survey of bald eagles from a boat, said Michael Schramm, park ranger at the local refuge. Seven or eight bald eagles are usually spotted during the winter survey, said Schramm, adding that an eagle flew by his wildlife refuge office window along Waverly Road on Friday.

Schramm said it is “fairly common” to spot bald eagles in this area year-round, although their numbers are “not abundant.”

Refuge personnel will see bald eagles flying by the refuge center in Williamstown two or three times a month. Eagle nests are on Neal Island on the Ohio River at Vienna and on the Muskingum River at Lock 2 in Devola, Washington County, Schramm said.

Ron and Linda Moncrief of Pettyville stopped by the News and Sentinel office to report they spotted a bald eagle in a tree along U.S. 50 at Stillwell Road in Wood County Tuesday afternoon. The sun was on the eagle as it sat on the treetop, Linda said.

Bird walks take place on Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. at the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge, although they will not be held the next two weekends.

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A bonfire is planned for 8 p.m. today in the community garden lot at First Lutheran Church, 1701 19th St. in Parkersburg, and you are invited. The church will be burning its greenery and Christmas trees brought to the parking lot by local residents. The bonfire is after the Epiphany Service, which begins at 7 p.m. Coffee and hot chocolate will be served during the bonfire.

Contact Paul LaPann at plapann@newsandsentinel.com

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