An Owl Named ‘Pelham’ Returns Home in Good Health
March 31, 2017
Editor’s note: This is the story of a resilient little owl who touched the hearts of the Szarek family of Island Pond Road in Pelham as told by mom, Toni.
During the midst of the Blizzard of March 2017, Jonathan exited our garage and opened the large door of the barn, which stands right next to our house. As he was moving around inside the barn, he saw a white flash in his peripheral vision – when he turned to look to figure out what it was, it vanished out the door. It didn’t make a sound.
He went on with his storm-related errands out in the barn. Later, he exited the barn and then went through the open garage door, and through another open door that led into a large room which is currently under final stages of renovation. Before going into the main/heated part of our house, he saw some movement in the corner.
Turning on some lights, he saw a pair of eyes staring back at him. It was an owl. The flash he had seen was the bird flying out through the open barn door where the bird must have flew in through the open garage door and into the house. Jonathan came inside and got the rest of the family to see.
Jonathan, myself, and our 9-year-old daughter Sienna stood there marveling at the bird and tried to figure out why it was inside the house. We all realized that the storm was far too strong to put the bird back out in. We decided it would be safer kept inside until the storm passed and that we’d let the owl go the next day when conditions were much more favorable.
I grabbed my camera and grabbed a few shots of the bird before Jonathan gently netted her with a butterfly net and placed her in a pet carrier. When I downloaded the photos of the owl, I noticed something was off. One of the owl’s eyes seemed closed more than the other, and its pupils dilated less. Afraid that the bird was hurt out in the storm or had perhaps flown into a window when stuck indoors, we knew we had to contact a wildlife rehabilitator to check to see what we should do as we didn’t want to release the bird if it was hurt and going to struggle to survive.
We did some research and came up with a list of rehabilitators in the area, however, one particular rehabilitator stood out among the rest. I read into an article about Jane Kelly of On The Wing. The amazingly dedicated raptor rehabilitator and educator seemed so passionate about her work and her birds. She knew she found the right person to talk to about the owl. I called Jane first thing in the morning and we talked a bit. Jane talked with some colleagues and decided it would be best for the bird to be checked out before being released. Jonathan drove the bird out to her facility in Epping, N.H., and delivered our owl right into her hands. The whole family, as well as many owl and raptor enthusiasts, were able to watch our bird’s rehabilitation progress through Jane’s social media posts and updates up until our bird, named “Pelham,” was ready to be released back on our property. Without the caring team from the Veterinary Emergency and Surgery Hospital of Brentwood, N.H., being available 24/7, injured birds like Pelham would not have a second chance. They were instrumental in our owl’s recovery.
Jane had three scheduled releases the same day our bird was to come home. She released a Cooper’s Hawk and a Barred Owl in Salem, and then over to Pelham for our Eastern Screech Owl’s release. Jane arrived at our house with a trail of raptor enthusiasts and photographers. Sienna got to stand right next to Jane while everyone got to watch our owl take off from Jane’s hands and land up only a short distance away into the safety of a pine tree. The bird looked around and got its bearings, then flew off into the branches of one of the oldest maple trees in Pelham, located across the road. Jane observed that the owl could be nesting within some of the hollows of that tree, and that was why it is important to release her back home.
It was an incredibly special opportunity for all of us to witness this whole process and have an even greater appreciation for owls, raptors and all the work that Jane does for these awesome birds. We all walked away so satisfied knowing that “Pelham” is healthy and back home in our neighborhood.