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Robb Jeffries, Forum News Service, Published April 20 2013

Rescued Grand Forks owl makes full recovery

GRAND FORKS - The great horned owl found tangled in kite string March 6 in Grand Forks’ Lincoln Park is set to be released back into the wild on Sunday.

The owl, found hanging upside down in Lincoln Park by cross-country skiers, was rescued in an effort led by local raptor expert Tim Driscoll.

He said the bird is being transported to the park from St. Paul this afternoon. The owl was brought to the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center to recover from a strained wing.

“(The doctors) waited a few days, then let her try to fly — she really wanted to fly,” he said. “After a few tries, she was successful. They moved her to a flying enclosure — sort of like a long hallway — then to an outdoor flying area.”

After a few of those flights, he said one of the center’s experts made the call to have the owl transported back to Grand Forks.

Driscoll will release the owl around 5 to 6 p.m. at Lincoln Park and invites the public to attend.

“It’ll be pretty cool to watch her fly away, if you ask me,” he said.

Of the 30 or so birds Driscoll has found injured and sent to St. Paul, nine have been released alive. This owl will be just the second one brought back to Grand Forks for release.

“Most of them have had broken bones,” Driscoll said of the birds he has found. “Usually if a bone is broken in the middle of the bone, they can fix it.

“But if it’s in the joint, they don’t recover as well. On a person, you’d have surgery and then just have a bad arm or leg the rest of your life. For the owl, they can’t fly, and they would be in pain their whole lives.”

Experts at the Raptor Center were optimistic during the course of the owl’s recovery, Driscoll said.

“I’m excited about this one,” he said. “The recovery wasn’t that long, and they thought it was a matter of time right away.

“Sometimes, you just get lucky.”