Owl Foundation has been helping birds of prey for more than 40 years
Guest speaker Annick Gionet of The Owl Foundation in Vineland, who gave us an interesting and informative description of the work the foundation does. Its main goal is to rehabilitate injured and orphaned owls. She pointed out that founders Larry and Kay McKeever started the work in the mid-1960’s and incorporated the foundation as a charity in 1975. Annick pointed out that they receive between 100 and 150 birds of prey annually. The foundation researches and studies the proper medication to facilitate the rehabilitation of wildlife.
Education is another important part of their work. They attempt to heal owls to be released into the wild but if they are not able to do so they are equipped to house the injured birds. She said that birds of prey are a keystone species that help maintain a natural balance in the food web. She added that all birds of prey that are released from Vineland are banded to help gather useful data about how long the birds survive and how far they travel.
Annick pointed out several characteristics of owls including the fact that they can see long distances in low light, can detect and pinpoint the direction of sound, their eyes face forward and can not move but owls have the ability to turn their heads 270 degrees. Owls do not create nests but will utilize existing nests and make due with just a few sticks or twigs.
Annick explained there are 11 species of owls in Ontario ranging from the common Snowy and Barred owls to the at-risk barn and short-eared owls. She gave a brief description of each, both in appearance and sound.
Annick said that the future goals for the foundation include building a 200-foot flying space for their recovering birds. Further information about the foundation and about owls, including their various calls, can be found at their website: www.theowlfoundation.ca