Last year, 770 raptors came through the doors of Delta’s Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (OWL). This weekend, the public will get a chance to as well.
OWL is hosting its annual open house on May 5 and 6 this year, giving visitors a chance to look inside one of Canada’s busiest raptor rehabilitation centres.
“It’s the only time that people can see behind the scenes of an active rehabilitation facility like ours,” Martina Versteeg, raptor care supervisor at OWL, said.
“It’s a way to be transparent and have people see what we actually do here,” she continued. “It’s amazing to be this close to birds of prey, so giving everyone a chance to do that will make them more passionate about them, and help prevent more injuries in the future.”
Preventing injuries is something that Versteeg is keen on doing, as a record number of injured birds came through their doors in 2017.
“We hope that we’re not going to break that record again, because we don’t want them to be injured,” she said, “but definitely if they’re damaged and injured and need help, we’re here for them.”
“We try to be an open door for any of the birds of prey that need help.”
Right now, many of those birds that need help are babies.
“We have a few of our foster parents that are permanent residents raising the young,” Versteeg said. “Eventually they’ll be released back to the wild, because they know they’re an owl and they grow up with skills here. There’s a lot of cool things that you can learn about when you come by.”
During the open house, visitors will get a chance to tour OWL’s rehabilitation centre, looking at the areas normally not open to the public while learning how the society rehabilitates the birds and releases them back into the wild. They will also be able to visit some of the society’s resident birds, while enjoying food and educational programming.
The centre, located at 3800 72nd St., will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on both May 5 and 6, with admission by donation. But the highlight of the open house takes place will be at 1 p.m.
That’s when, on each day, OWL will release a raptor that is ready to return to the wild after being cared for by the society. This year, Versteeg expects they will be releasing a juvenile eagle and an adult Cooper’s hawk.
The eagle was brought in to OWL with damaged webbing in her wing and a hurt tendon. Now, after her stay at the centre, she has adapted to her injury and will likely be heading back to the wild during the open house.
The Cooper’s hawk was actually brought in from Tsawwassen, after likely hitting someone’s window or fence. He had a damaged shoulder, but is now flying well and is ready to be released.
“It’s a wonderful event for all ages, and pretty much there’s something for everyone,” Versteeg said about the event.
The open house will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 5 and Sunday, May 6 at O.W.L.’s bird care centre (3800 72 Street). Admission is by donation.