Bainbridge Conversation

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Name that owl

August 27th, 2008 by tristan baurick

Owly, Owlsworth, Owlton, Owlson, Owlefeller, Hoot, Hooter, Hootsey, Hootenany.

That’s my shortlist of names for the unnamed owl perched above. What’s yours?

The West Sound Wildlife Shelter is sponsoring a naming contest for this injured bird. The island-based shelter hopes to have the friendly owl in good health before it makes the rounds in local classrooms, teaching kids all about night vision, hat snatching and and mice pellets.

Read Rachel Pritchett’s story below.

Owl Headed for Class Needs a Name
By Rachel Pritchett

They say those that can’t do, teach.

Teaching is what the folks at the West Sound Wildlife Shelter have in mind for a young female barred owl they say can never be released back into the wild to live a normal owl’s life.

Staff want to name the bird before she goes into classrooms and other venues this fall for presentations about the natural world, and are asking for help in naming it. The winner of the new “Name the Owl Contest” gets a free visit from … well … the nameless owl.

Name nominations, due by Sept. 15, can be made through the shelter’s Web site at www.westsoundwildlife.org or through the shelter’s executive director, Kol Medina, at kol@westsoundwildlife.org or (206) 855-9057. Medina hopes for 300 suggestions.

The owl was found last year injured, starving and near death in a South Kitsap field. She appeared to have been hit by a vehicle. A bone in her breast was broken and she never will be able to fly at full strength.

Since then, shelter staff patiently have been nursing the owl back to health.

But from the get-go, they noticed something very unusual about her. She seemed curious about humans, often hopping over to the window of her 8-by-14-foot enclosure for a closer look when someone happened by.

“She doesn’t have the normal wild owl behavior. She’s very curious of people,” said Mike Pratt, the shelter’s director of wildlife services.

Pratt said that behavior might be from a “mental disability” caused by the trauma. Law gives the shelter two choices: Euthanize the animal or use it as a teaching tool.

So these days, the curious owl with no appellation is in training for public presentations.

She’ll join the great horned owl, Orion, as the second shelter resident to visit classrooms, libraries and groups. Orion has become an educational workhorse, for lack of a better term, and has been part of 60 such presentations in the past year and a half.

Barred owls, named for the distinctive stripes across their breasts, first were seen in Washington in 1965. Their numbers have been going up since. A year ago, there were reports of barred owls swooping down and scaring people on south Bainbridge Island, even grabbing their hats.

Owl expert Jamie Acker of Bainbridge Island counted 86 barred owls on the island in July, but does not know how many are in all of Kitsap.

Acker said young barred owls now are “dispersing” from their families, setting out on their own, and are susceptible to getting hit by vehicles.

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